The special court hearing cases related to irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008 reserved its judgment on pleas challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the Aircel-Maxis deal case and whether this case falls under the umbrella of the “2G scam.” The special court will pass orders on the issue of jurisdiction on September 6.
During the course of the debate, counsels of former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, and his brother Kalanithi Maran, argued that the Aircel-Maxis case cannot be treated as a “2G scam” case.
“It is a private dispute (between two parties) and has nothing to with 2G scam. No loss has been caused to the exchequer and the company’s (Aircel) licenses were never cancelled in the 2012 Supreme Court judgement,” argued Kalanithi Maran’s advocate Rebecca John.
Former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran’s counsel Siddharth Luthra took a similar line in his arguments. “We are not shying away from a trial, but we cannot be tried as 2G accused under the 2G scam banner,” Luthra said.
The counsels further stressed that the case is being termed as a “2G scam case” merely because of the former telecom minister’s involvement.
However, the special public prosecutor Grover argued that given the “fact that the Supreme Court was monitoring the Aircel-Maxis deal case, it falls under the 2G scam ambit.”
Counsels for Maran brothers refuted the special public prosecutor’s argument. John argued that the Supreme Court has classified the 2G cases into “different categories - 2G, 2G scam and additional spectrum cases. Aircel Maxis case does not fall under 2G scam cases but under the additional spectrum category.”
Arrest Warrants: CBI Seeks More Time
The court also adjourned the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea seeking arrest warrants against the Malaysia-based companies and individuals summoned as accused in the case. The investigative agency sought time to file additional documents, and the case will now be heard on August 29.
The CBI informed the court that it made several attempts to serve summons to companies in Malaysia, but the accused have not appeared in court since 2014.
“We have followed the procedure under India’s bilateral treaty with Malaysia to serve summons to the accused. However, the summons are lying on Malaysia’s Attorney General’s table. It hasn’t reached the accused yet,” Anand Grover, senior public prosecutor had argued earlier in court.
The special court will also consider Maran brothers and others bail applications after its verdict on whether the case can be treated as a 2G scam case.
The CBI’s August 2014 Charge Sheet
The CBI named the Maran brothers as accused in its August 2014 charge sheet and leveled charges of criminal conspiracy, abuse of official position, and bribery. Besides the Marans, the CBI named T Ananda Krishnan, owner of the Malaysia-based Maxis group, Ralph Marshall, senior executive of Maxis, and four companies - Sun Direct TV, Astro All Asia Networks Ltd, Maxis Communication Bhd Malaysia, and South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd. Mauritius - as accused.
The CBI claimed that Dayanidhi Maran pressurised Chennai-based businessman C Sivasankaran to sell his stake in Aircel Ltd. to Maxis in 2006. In return, the Malaysian company invested in Sun Direct, owned by Kalanithi Maran.
“Proceeds of Crime”
The Special CBI Court, which was set up to hear 2G scam related cases, took cognizance of charge sheets filed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate earlier this year. Special Judge OP Saini, summoned the Maran brothers on the basis of ED’s charge sheet in the money laundering case related to Aircel-Maxis deal.
The ED had claimed that Sun Direct TV Private Ltd. and South Asia FM Ltd., both controlled by Kalanithi Maran, received Rs 742.58 crore as “proceeds of crime” from Mauritius-based firms in the Aircel-Maxis deal.