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Updated: July 7, 2011 03:27 IST

CBI says Maran forced Aircel to sell shares to Malaysian firm

J. Venkatesan
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Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran after a Cabinet meeting in June, in New Delhi. File Photo: V.V.Krishnan
Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran after a Cabinet meeting in June, in New Delhi. File Photo: V.V.Krishnan

There is prima facie material to suggest that there is an element of coercion by the “former Telecom Minister” [Dayanidhi Maran, now the Textiles Minister] in Aircel selling its shares to a Malaysian telecom company, the Central Bureau of Investigation told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Giving details of the investigation conducted so far on the Preliminary Enquiry registered for the period 2001 to 2007, the CBI said that initial enquiry revealed that the former Telecom Minister, who held the portfolio from 2004 to 2007, deliberately sat on Aircel's licence application for months together.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, read out the highlights of the status report and said that the former Telecom Minister delayed the file in spite of unanimous recommendation from Department of Telecom (DoT) officials. He said unwanted and frivolous queries were asked from Aircel to delay the file while no such queries were raised against two other companies that had applied for licences during the same period. He said “the CBI's preliminary enquiry reveals an element of coercion in the former Minister dealing with Aircel.”

Counsel said “this gentleman [C. Sivasankaran, promoter of Aircel] was forced to transfer all his shares to the Malaysian company. Only after the transfer took place in March 2006, action was taken on all the applications for licence. The Letter of Intent was issued to the Malaysian company in November 2006 and the licence was granted in December 2006. The CBI is now probing whether there is any quid pro quo in the transaction. The CBI is also verifying the allegations by enquiring into the final share transactions which had taken place through a Singapore Bank [Standard Chartered Bank], which had been called for enquiry on July 13.”

On other aspects of the 2G spectrum case, Counsel said that prima facie the CBI had evidence to show that Loop Telecoms was a front company of Essar, which also stood corporate guarantee for Loop when it applied for a State Bank of India loan.

The status report noted: “Essar was the group behind Loop but two days before the grant of Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) licence they reduced their stake to approx 2 per cent. Also, Essar stood corporate guarantee for Loop when it applied for State Bank of India loan.” Justice Singhvi observed that this did raise questions about the role of the banks in the way they granted loans.

When counsel referred to a legal opinion given by a retired Chief Justice of India [V.N. Khare] to one of the companies and to his going to the media about the legal opinion, Justice Singhvi made it clear to the CBI that it should ignore all such legal opinions and proceed with the investigation as they were intended to sidetrack the probe. He said “the CBI should continue with its investigation to reach a logical conclusion uninfluenced by such legal opinions.”

During the hearing, Mr. Venugopal told the court that the CBI was to complete its investigation into the money trail, involving the 2G-spectrum allocation scam, by August 31. He added that the probe into all the irregularities in the spectrum allocation during 2001-08 would be completed within three months by September 30.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 11, when it would take up the status report of the Enforcement Directorate.

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Kalanidhi Maran must be the beneficiary in this scandal like Kanimozhi. He too should be investigated. Let justice prevail.

from:  Raju
Posted on: Jul 8, 2011 at 02:21 IST

Just by resigning from the cabinet Maran cannot go scot free. What Justice will be provided to former Aircel owner Mr. Sivasankaran?. Will he get back Aircel or the shares he sold forcibly at the same price? What will be the plight of common man when even Multi millionaires like Siva cannot fight for their due rights according to the rule of law when they are coerced by politicians and ministers? By doing this the politicians are not only forcing business owners, they are depriving the national exchequer for their personal gains. Common citizens should fully come to support Anna and lokpal bill and pressurize govt to implement it in the coming parliament session. Otherwise even god cannot save India with the current kind of politicians in India.

from:  Ramesh KN
Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 at 16:18 IST

After lapsse of considerable time and 'tedious' efforts, and supervision by the courts, it is surprising the CBI has so far seen only the tip of the ice berg; and seems bent on narrowing down the scope of enquiry to a small group, with a view to protect the whales.

from:  J.Narayanasamy
Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 at 10:05 IST

More and more worms are coming out with probe. India should dispense with many unwanted 'license and permit raj' regulations which make the Political babus and beauracrats to rule over the real entrepreneurs. We forget that all these grey costs are ultimately transferred to consumers.

from:  R.Thiagarajan
Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 at 09:55 IST

It would seem that the CBI has already decided that Dayanidhi Maran has to be implicated in the 2G scam and its efforts seems to be to find out how this can be done. It is pertinent to ask why the Prime Minister and the cabinet did not find out from Mr.Maran why there was delay in finalising the issue of licences for the use of the spectrum when the government was keen on quick development of the mobile phone industry. By the way, isn't a minister free to ask questions of Aircel or any company applying for the license before he takes decisions in the matter. Also is CBI competent to decide whether the questions asked by the minister were frivolous or unwanted? There is definitely something wrong somewhere. The courts will ultimately find out.

from:  K.Vijayakumae
Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 at 09:10 IST

It is patent that the IT Minister (Maran) had made a foul play, throwing into winds all decent ways of maintaining fair play and integrity. Such a person with dubious character should not be allowed to continue any longer in the ministry. If PM applies Coalition Dharma, it would be the worst thing for the country and for the Congress Party. It is a fact that the DMK grabbed this portfolio for looting only.

from:  S. Venugopal
Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 at 08:01 IST

This shows how Lokpal bill is necessary to act very seriously on political persons to root out corruption. Quickest action require to save INDIA!.

from:  Chakravarthy
Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 at 03:37 IST

This is entirely new territory in India's politics and jurispridence. A sitting central government minister is being publicly arraignd in front of no less an August body than the highest court of the land, by a competent and legally authorized agency. How much longer can this minister, or any or his peers brush aside charges - such as the ones leveled against them in any public forum -- as it was their wont. This is an encourageing sign for the country because it says to the high and mighty: your power is not beyond question. There is someone that can stop you and ask you to explain your conduct. Importantly, it will happen right now in this your lifetime, not after death in a non-existent world of Karma;.

from:  Mukundagiri Sadagopan
Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 at 01:42 IST
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