Aircel-Maxis deal: SC declines to stay CBI charge sheet against Maran

New Delhi, Aug 28:

The Supreme Court Thursday refused to interfere with the CBI going ahead to file a charge sheet against former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran in the Aircel-Maxis deal saying his plea seeking to restrain the investigating agency from doing so was not permissible under law.

Dayanidhi Maran
Dayanidhi Maran

A bench of Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, while declining to issue an injunction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), however, asked that for any reason if the charge sheet is defective, should not it be challenged before an appropriate forum.

This response came as senior counsel C.A. Sundaram, appearing for the DMK leader, urged the court to direct the CBI to first conduct “full, fair and complete investigation (in Aircel-Maxis deal) before filing the charge sheet”.

The matter relates to sale of Aircel to Maxis, owned by T. Ananda Krishnan, in 2006 wherein Aircel’s original owner C. Sivasankaran had alleged that he was pressured to sell as his firm was denied licences. The CBI has alleged quid pro quo saying that in return, the Malaysian company invested Rs.650 crore in Sun TV owned by the Maran family.

The CBI Aug 12 had told the court that it would be filing charge-sheet against Dayanidhi Maran in the Aircel-Maxis deal by the end of this month based on evidence collected within the country as the Malaysian authorities were refusing to cooperate.

Sundaram told the court that the filing of the charge sheet has a huge ramification for Maran – a politician – as it has “some kind of stigma”, though it “may not be same as being held guilty”.

In response, Justice Dattu said “We understand the repercussions (of the charge sheet being filed)”, adding that if the charge sheet is “defective, (suffers from) lacuna and flaws, you come before us for quashing it and we will consider it and come to your rescue”.

The CBI director may say that investigation in Aircel-Maxis case was not complete but if director, prosecution, and the first law officer of the country (Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi) say that the stage has come to file the charge sheet, then they can’t be injuncted, the court said as Sundaram pleaded that the CBI chief has said that the investigation was not over and its Malaysian leg – which is paramount to the case – was far from over.

Declining to interfere, the court permitted Sundaram to withdraw the petition while keeping open all the issues to be agitated at an appropriate forum at a later stage.

The investigating agency decided to go ahead with the filing of charge sheet following Rohatgi opining that there was enough evidence that the agency had gathered domestically to go ahead.

The attorney general’s opinion was sought following sharp differences between the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and agency’s director of prosecution on launching prosecution. Sinha held that there was no sufficient evidence to proceed against Maran.

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