Dayanidhi Maran’s arrest stayed by Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today stayed the Madras High Court order cancelling former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran's anticipatory bail in the illegal telephone exchange case.

Issuing notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to reply within two weeks, the court listed the matter for 14 September.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appearing for CBI referred to the facts of the case to stress that it was a huge corruption case and said, “Maran used clout in government to fix lines for use of the huge media house Sun TV. We want his custody to prove the conspiracy involving Maran, Sun TV network and BSNL.”

Maran had argued that bail is cancelled only when there is danger of the person fleeing the country or influencing the witnesses in the case. In this case, he contended that neither apprehension was considered or sounded out in the High Court order. He contended that the CBI had sought the cancellation of his bail only to humiliate him.

Justice T S Thakur and Justice V. Gopala Gowda questioned both Maran’s counsel Shyam Diwan and Rohatgi before giving their order.

Justice Thakur asked whether political vendetta was behind the push for Maran’s arrest. Asking the CBI whether it was trying to "fix" him, Justice Thakur asked, “Why do the CBI need to arrest a man for Rs 1 crore pending phone bills? When the FIR was filed in 2013, why did you not make any arrest? What were you doing for nearly three years?”

“If you think the phone lines were fixed as part of conspiracy, question him, question the BSNL officials. Why arrest him?” he said.

“Is it a matter of prestige for you to arrest him? Nobody should get away after causing public loss but custodial interrogation? How did you assess the Rs 1 crore loss? You say no bills were raised. Anyway he is willing to pay. You raise the bill now and he will pay up,” Justice Thakur said.

Diwan added, “There is no criminality in this case, only monetary claim. We will pay if any dues.”

Earlier, the former Telecom Minister argued that the Madras High Court did not consider the legal circumstances before cancellation of bail and the order was an error in law.

According to the prosecution, Maran as Minister entered into a criminal conspiracy with officials of the BSNL and by abusing their official positions, caused a huge financial loss and wrongful loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.78 crore.

The prosecution alleged that the former Minister installed over 300 telephone connections in his residence in the name of the accused government servants to show these connections illegally under “service category,” thereby making no payments for the installation and rentals.

Maran was granted anticipatory bail for six weeks on the condition that he would cooperate with the agency in the investigation. 

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