CBI divided on prosecuting Maran in Aircel-Maxis deal, SC told

New Delhi : The Supreme Court was Thursday told that there were difference within the CBI on whether to proceed against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran for alleged acts of wrongdoing, including quid pro quo in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

Though the status report on its investigation into the allegation of wrongdoing and quid pro quo against Maran was submitted in a sealed cover, it was revealed that the investigating officer, his supervisor and the joint director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were for launching prosecution against him but CBI Director Ranjit Sinha holds a contrary view.

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Following the difference of opinion, the matter was sent to Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati in November 2013 but so far he has not given an opinion, said CBI sources.

The sources said that since November, the file seeking the attorney general’s opinion was sent to him thrice but he is yet to respond.

The court was also told that the offshore investigation into the Aircel-Maxis deal has got grounded as the Malaysian government has said there was nothing against T. Ananda Krishnan — the owner of Maxis which bought Aircel from its original owner Sivasankaran.

Counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, told the court that the Malaysian government declined to part with any information saying “no criminality of Ananda Krishnan who owns the company (Maxis) has been established”.

Sivasankaran gave six applications seeking spectrum for Aircel but they were not entertained by the department of telecommunications under then minister Dayanidhi Maran but things started moving soon after he offloaded his entire stake in Aircel and sold it to Maxis.

The CBI has investigated whether Sivasankaran was forced by Maran to sell his entire stake in Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis owned by Ananda Krishnan and the allegations of quid pro quo.

After Sivasankaran sold his stake to Maxis, a Mauritius company made a big investment in the Maran-family-owned Sun Direct channel.

The CBI is investigating whether the Malaysian company was a holding company of the Mauritius-based company through which funds came for Sun Direct.

In an earlier hearing Nov 7, 2012, the apex court had said: “The allegations (of quid pro quo) you (CBI) have levelled (in Aircel-Maxis), prima facie it appears it is correct.”

The court said this as counsel Venugopal went through the CBI’s status report on its investigation into the alleged role of Dayanidhi Maran in the deal.

When the court asked the CBI if there was a nexus between investment in Sun Direct and quid pro quo, Venugopal said “unless we are able to show that the Malaysian company was a holding company of the Mauritius-based firm, through which funds came for Sun Direct, we can’t establish the link”.

As the CBI is still awaiting the Attorney General’s opinion in the matter, the court directed the posting of the matter to Aug 12 next.

The court also directed the listing plea by Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel and Ravikant Ruia of Essar challenging their being summoned to appear before a 2G special court in connection with excess spectrum allocation scam during BJP-led NDA regime in 2002.

The court said that before it could take any view, it would like to hear both the CBI and Mittal and Ruia as it directed the listing of the matter for Aug 6 next.