New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday exonerated all the accused in the Aircel-Maxis case including the Maran brothers dealing a heavy blow to the CBI and Enforcement Directorate that has been probing the politically significant case for years.
The CBI had filed charge sheet against former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother and head of Sun TV Network Kalanidhi Maran besides T. Ananda Krishnan, owner of Malaysian company Maxis, Ralph Marshall, a senior executive of the Maxis Group, and four companies, including the Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd.
"All accused are discharged... Maran has always been positive and had a great trust in judiciary… He seems very relieved," Maran's lawyer, Kapil Arora told media.
The case’s genesis lies in a complaint filed by Aircel owner C. Sivasankaran alleging that he was pressurised to sell his stakes to Maxis. It is later alleged that the Maxis Group, which bought a 74% stake in Aircel in March 2006, invested Rs742 crore in Sun Direct between 2007 and 2009.
In the money laundering case, ED has chargesheeted the Maran brothers, Kalanithi's wife Kavery, Managing Director of
South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL) K Shanmugam, SAFL and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL) under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Besides Maran brothers, the court discharged two companies - M/s Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd (SDTPL) and M/s South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd.
During arguments on framing of charges, Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover had claimed that Dayanidhi had "pressurised" Chennai-based telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006.
The charge was strongly refuted by Dayanidhi. All the accused had denied the allegations against them made by the investigating agencies and had moved bail pleas.
Both the Maran brothers were in the court today, but refused to comment to the media.
Sources said both ED and CBI are likely to appeal in a higher court.
(With Agency inputs)