PTI Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Mar 20, 2019, 08.34 PM
The Madras High Court Wednesday refused to quash charges framed against former Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others in the "illegal" telephone exchange case, rapping them for approaching the court for the third time at this stage.
Directing the CBI court to complete the proceedings within four months, Justice N Anand Venkatesh said if the petitioners adopt any dilatory tactics, it was open to the trial court to insist upon their presence and remand them in custody as laid down by the Supreme Court.
He said the court was convinced that the trial court had fulfilled all the requirements before framing the charges and there was absolutely no ground to interfere with it.
Judge R Vasanthi of the XXIV Additional Sessions Court for CBI cases had on January 30 framed the charges against each of the seven accused for offences under the Indian Penal Code -- criminal conspiracy (section 120-B), criminal breach of trust (409) and cheating (420) -- and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Dayanidhi Maran misused his official position as the then minister for communications and information technology in the UPA I government and got private telephone exchanges installed at his residences in Chennai which were used for business transactions of the Sun Network, owned by his brother Kalanithi Maran, during 2004-06.
It claimed over 700 high-speed telecommunication lines were installed for which bills were not raised by BSNL, causing the exchequer a loss of Rs 1.78 crore.
The Maran brothers and five other accused, who have denied the charges against them in the trial court, in their present petition sought quashing of the charges framed against them, contending that relevant guidelines were not followed by the trial court.
Rejecting their plea, Justice Venkatesh said this was the third time the high court was called upon to interfere with the proceedings in the trial court at the stage of framing of charges.
If the petitioners were confident that none of the charges against them can be sustained, they must willingly face the trial and get an honourable acquittal, he said.
But, they had ensured that the case did not proceed beyond the stage of framing of charges and came up with the same quash plea every time by giving it a different form.
The judge said when the prosecution has placed materials before the court prima facie evidencing the truthfulness of the allegations, the trial must be held.
The petitioners do not want to face the trial and establish their defence in accordance with law, he said, adding they had consumed sufficient judicial time of this court.
Justice Venkatesh said the high court cannot interfere with the proceedings of trial court at each and every step by invoking section 482 of the CrPC.
He directed the CBI court to conduct the trial strictly in accordance with section 309 of the CrPC and the guidelines given by the apex court.
Besides the Marans, grandnephews of late DMK president M Karunanidhi, the other accused are former BSNL general manager K Brahmanathan, former deputy general manager M P Velusamy, Dayanidhi Maran's private secretary V Gauthaman and some Sun TV officials.
On March 14 last year, the CBI court had discharged all the accused, holding there was no prima facie case against them.
But, the Madras High Court had on July 25 quashed the order, holding that there was "heaps" of materials against the Maran brothers and other accused to proceed.
The high court order was challenged by Dayanidhi Maran in the Supreme Court which rejected his plea and directed him to face trial in the special court, following which the charges were framed afresh in January this year.
It claimed over 700 high-speed telecommunication lines were installed for which bills were not raised by BSNL, causing the exchequer a loss of Rs 1.78 crore