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Telephone exchange case: SC asks Dayanidhi Maran to appear before CBI

New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran will have to appear before CBI investigators for six days, starting from November 30, for questioning in the telephone exchange case, the Supreme Court directed today while extending

PTI Updated on: November 27, 2015 19:25 IST
telephone exchange case sc asks dayanidhi maran to appear
telephone exchange case sc asks dayanidhi maran to appear before cbi

New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran will have to appear before CBI investigators for six days, starting from November 30, for questioning in the telephone exchange case, the Supreme Court directed today while extending protection against arrest to him.

While asking Maran to appear before CBI from 11 AM to 5 PM from Monday, the bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and V Gopala Gowda, however, refused to allow his custodial interrogation by the probe agency which said it needed his custody to unravel the "actual conspiracy" as the telephone lines were allegedly used by his family-run Sun TV.

"We will not grant you (CBI) his custody. Interim order (of protection against arrest) to continue. In the meantime, we direct the petitioner to appear before CBI...," it said while admitting the plea of Maran for final hearing.

It asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for CBI, to prepare a questionnaire and give them to CBI personnel and the accused and further granted liberty to the agency to move before it if Maran does not co-operate and answer the queries.

At the outset, senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the DMK leader, referred to the list of dates of events to drive home the point that the "belated" plea for custodial interrogation was the misuse of the might of the state.

"The offence pertains to a period between 2004-2007 ...And the FIR was registered in 2013 and the petitioner has appeared for questioning several times," he said, adding that the CBI has not alleged that he ever "interfered", "influenced" or "tampered" with the probe.

It was a service connection which all Telecom minister get, he said.

On being told that the it was a multiple calling facility, the bench asked, "why did he require so many connections?"

Rohatgi opposed the plea saying that the case was not so simple and a "full fledged" telephone exchange was set up at Chennai house of the Minister to provide ISDN connections without any approval.

The lines were not used for voice calls and rather used for communication of "data" and several such connections can be used corporates like a TV company, he said.

The case, pertaining to period 2004-07, was registered in July 2013 and Maran was quizzed several times in this regard, that too for hours, he said, adding that the documents sought by CBI have been handed over by him.

The Attorney General also said that "data transfer" is expensive and Maran's custodial interrogation was needed to ascertain the actual conspiracy.

The then Chief General Manager of BSNL has said that the telephone exchange was set up on the oral order of the then minister, he said.

Earlier, the apex court had extended stay on a Madras High Court order cancelling the bail and asking Maran to surrender in the case.

The High Court had on August 10 cancelled Maran's interim anticipatory bail and directed him to surrender before CBI in three days, holding that "prima facie" Maran had "misused" his office by obtaining phone connections illegally and the charges against him were backed by material.

CBI has registered an FIR against Maran and others alleging that over 300 high-speed telephone lines were provided at his residence here and extended to his brother Kalanithi Maran's SUN TV channel to enable its uplinking when Dayanidhi Maran was Telecom Minister from 2004-07.

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