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Ineffective investigation

Ineffective investigation
The discharge of financially and politically powerful Maran brothers in the Aircel-Maxis deals cases has once again exposed the ineffectiveness of the nation's leading investigative agencies when it comes to taking bigwigs to task. A special court on Thursday discharged former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran, and others in the Aircel-Maxis deal cases, which were lodged by CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). A big question mark now hangs over the fate of the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases, which involves another political leader A Raja. Maran was Telecom Minister between 2004 and 2007; he was replaced in Dr Manmohan Singh's Cabinet by A Raja, who, like Maran, is from the DMK, and has been charged as the architect of another huge telecom swindle – "the 2G scam." Raja is looking for exoneration in the scam, which proved to be the nemesis of the UPA-II government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh. The exoneration of Maran brothers will certainly add spurs to a rejuvenated DMK campaign to fill the vacuum in the southern state created by the untimely death of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK leader in harness.

The order on Thursday was passed by Special Judge O P Saini who is exclusively dealing with the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases and those cases arising out of the investigation into it. 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. In 2014, the CBI filed charges against Dayanidhi Maran, his media mogul brother Kalanithi Maran and T Ananda Krishana, a Malaysian tycoon, for colluding to allow Maxis take control of Aircel, a Chennai-based company owned at the time by C Sivasankaran. He had alleged that as Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran withheld crucial permissions and clearances as a "pressure tactic" till he sold the telecom to Maxis in 2006. The CBI had alleged that after the transaction, Rs 700 crores was routed "as illegal gratification" to the Marans, in part through the Sun Group, which runs a media business including television channels and satellite TV services, and is headed by Kalanithi Maran.

The charges against the Marans and the Maxis owner included criminal conspiracy. A separate case of money-laundering was filed against them by the Enforcement Directorate, which handles financial crimes. In the money laundering case, ED had charge sheeted 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 also discharged two companies - M/s Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd (SDTPL) and M/s South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd. The silver lining in the matter is that the court's order on Thursday will not have any effect on the two accused Malaysian nationals -- Ralph Marshall and T Ananda Krishnan -- as the court has already segregated the trial against them from that of Maran brothers and others.
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