Maran brothers discharged in 'illegal telephone exchange' case

The CBI faced yet another setback in cases against former UPA ministers when a special CBI court in Chennai on Wednesday discharged former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and five others in the illegal telephone exchange case.

CBI special judge Natarajan in his verdict said that there is no prima facie material against the accused and hence they are discharged from case.

The central agency had alleged that Dayanidhi had caused a loss of Rs 1.78 crore to the exchequer.

While seeking their discharge, the Maran brothers told the court that CBI had failed to understand the latest technology and hence pursued the case.

Among others who were let off by the court today were BSNL general manager K Brahmanathan, former deputy general manager MP Velusamy and Dayanidhi's private secretary Gauthaman.

The judge had on March 9 reserved orders for today in the case. The CBI, in its petition in the special court, had alleged that Maran, to favour his brother's Sun Network, had misused his office and installed a private telephone exchange at his residences in Boat Club, Chennai. "The CBI undertstated the loss, limited it to cable laying expenses, leaving 800 lines user charges", he said on Twitter. CBI had alleged that the private telephone exchange installed at Dayanidhi's residences comprised over 700 telephone lines but no bills were raised.

The CBI opposed the discharge pleas contending that the agency has filed chargesheet against the Maran brothers and other accused only after thorough investigation, and that all the charges framed against them were supported with material and documentary evidence. In fact, Dayanidhi Maran has not been part of any of the high profile party meetings in the recent past.

It may be recalled that Kalanidhi's Sun Pictures is producing Rajinikanth's next blockbuster directed by Karthik Subburaj.

Vanessa Coleman