Bench grants CBI time to decide on charge sheet against Dayanidhi Maran in Aircel-Maxis case

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the CBI to respond to a fresh application from the Centre for Public Interest Litigation seeking a probe into the report of Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) against the Tatas as revealed in the Niira Radia tapes.

A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and K.S. Radhakrishnan, after hearing counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the CPIL, asked the CBI to file a status report on the nature of investigations conducted on this aspect.

Quoting the SFIO report, which probed the Niira Radia tape case that M/s Unitech was nothing but a front for the Tatas, counsel said there was glaring evidence of apparent quid pro quo between the Tatas and the DMK’s first family ( M. Karunanidhi and Rajathi Ammal).

The application alleged that during the SFIO probe, it was revealed that a huge piece of property worth hundreds of crores was transferred by the Tata group company ‘Voltas’ to the DMK’s first family. He wanted the CBI to conduct a probe on this aspect. The Bench asked the CBI to include this issue in its next status report to be filed in August.

The Bench also granted time to the CBI till August to take a decision on filing the charge sheet against former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran in the Aircel-Maxis deal. This would mean that the next government to be formed at the Centre will take a call on this issue.

Earlier, Mr. Bhushan alleged that the CBI was delaying the filing of the charge sheet because of some difference of opinion between the investigating officers and the CBI Director. He urged the court to call for file notings.

Appearing for the CBI, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal submitted status reports of the investigation conducted by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in various 2G cases.

Counsel informed the Bench that the views of the Attorney-General were sought in view of the difference of opinion.

He said the Malaysian government had refused to cooperate in the investigation, stating that no criminality against T. Ananda Krishnan of the Maxis group was established.

In view of this assertion, the Bench, after going through the status report, granted time to the CBI to get the AG’s opinion and inform the court its decision on filing of charge sheet on the next date of hearing on August 12.

The Bench made it clear that the present team of investigating officers should not be transferred and they must continue the probe until its completion.

Final hearing

Meanwhile, the Bench posted for final hearing on August 5 the appeals filed by Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal, Asim Ghosh, former head of Vodafone-Essar, and Ravi Ruia, one of the founders of the Essar Group, challenging the trial court’s order summoning them as accused in the 2G case.

Senior counsel Harish Salve submitted that the trial court had held that the three were prima facie in control of the affairs of their companies which were named in the charge sheet by the CBI. Though they were not cited as accused in the charge sheet (the companies were cited as accused) the trial court held that they represented the directing mind and will of their respective companies, counsel said and prayed for stay of the summons and said trial could go on against the companies.

However, Mr. Venugopal maintained that the trial court’s order was correct. The Bench then posted the matter for final hearing.

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