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Why is CBI director Ranjit Sinha still delaying filing of charge sheet against Dayanidhi Maran?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 9:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

CBI director Ranjit Sinha is allegedly stalling or delaying the filing of the charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis probe, even as rest of the CBI team - legal and investigating - have unanimously recommended a charge sheet against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran.

According to CBI sources, officers from the rank of investigating official to additional director working on the Aircel-Maxis probe opined that the CBI has prima facie enough evidence to charge-sheet Dayanidhi Maran. Ranjit Sinha, however, is not convinced saying `evidence is not beyond reasonable doubt'.

CBI's status report recommending a charge sheet against Maran was ready to be presented in the Supreme Court way back in September 2013. But it is stuck now because Sinha sent it to Attorney General GE Vahanvati for his legal opinion. Vahabvati sent it back to the CBI director in February 2014, saying that it is a Supreme Court-controlled case and thus, it doesn't require his legal opinion.

But Sinha sent back the status report to Vahanvati on the grounds that he had even earlier sent Supreme Court-controlled cases for AG's opinion. The status report is still with Vahanvati, even as the Supreme Court has now asked the CBI to place the status report on May 1.

Ranjit Sinha told dna that Aircel-Maxis case is still under `legal scrutiny and thus, the CBI would not be able to place it in the Supreme Court on May 1. Asked if he is the lone dissenter in the Aircel-Maxis case, he said: "It's all nonsense. What does lone dissenter in the case mean? I am chief of the agency and I know what needs to be done."

Not everyone is convinced about the reasons for the delay or the CBI director's role. "The CBI director is being dishonest. The whole system has colluded to help Maran. It is a simple quid-pro-quo matter and the agency should submit the charge sheet in the court," said advocate Prasant Bhushan, who represents Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an NGO that had filed documents in the Supreme Court alleging that Maran had indirectly forced C Sivasankaran to sell that company to Maxis Group. The CBI had started preliminary inquiry into Aircel-Maxis deal on January 4, 2011, and nine months later on October 9, had registered the FIR.

CBI sources disclosed that the Aircel-Maxis case is rock solid and it is not for the CBI to kill a case on grounds of `reasonable judicial doubt' principle. It is for the court to decide if the CBI charge sheet is beyond reasonable judicial doubt. The CBI has solid evidence despite the fact that the Malaysian government did not respond to two letter rogataries request of the CBI.

In what is known as the Aircel-Maxis case, Dayanidhi Maran, DMK MP who was also communications minister in UPA -1, was accused of sitting on Aircel's applications for telecom licences and spectrum in more circles till after its owner C Sivasankaran sold it to Maxis. The allegation is that Dayanidhi did not want Sivasankaran to get licences and wanted to favour Maxis for an alleged quid pro quo.

Is there evidence that Maran forced the onwer of the applying company to sell stake to another company in Malayasia which, in turn, paid a kick back to Sun TV for the favour? Actually there is and the many CBI officers are convinced they have a watertight case.

The CBI has C Sivasankaran's statement under section 164, which is admissible in the court of law. C Sivasankaran, in his statement, has alleged that Maran foreced him to sell his stake in the company to Malaysian-based Maxis Group owned by business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan.

In 2005, Sivasankaran had applied for 14 telecom licences in cash-rich circles. Maran, however, did not entertain his application and rather issued show cause notices in an apparent attempt to either delay or block the application. In 2005, while Maran was in the minister of telecom, Sivasankaran in a letter to Maran wrote that "some powerful element in the ministry were sabotaging his applications of new licenses."

Soon after the Maxis took over, Maran's ministry ignored all the show-cause notices and issued all the UAS licenses in cash rich circles and within nine days (between 20 and 29 November 2006) Aircel became the eighth largest telecom company in the country.

In February 2007, four months after the licences were granted to Maxis-Aircel, Ananda Krishnan through one of his companies, South Asia Entertainment Holding Ltd (SAEHL) invested Rs600 crore in Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd run by Maran's brother Kalanidhi and his wife Kaveri Maran. The equity investment was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The Maran family was allotted about 12.6 crore additional equity shares in Sun Direct TV to maintain their total equity at 80 per cent.

The second evidence is that CBI investigators have obtained a reply from Mauritius to establish money trail from Maxis-Aircel to Sun Direct through Mauritius-based investment companies. Information obtained from Mauritius has details about the unsecured loans of Rs117 crore that Kalanidhi's (Dayanidhi's brother) company received from a Mauritius-based company DE Shaw Composite Investments.

Sinha, however, denied having received any communication from Mauritius. Top CBI sources, however, confirmed that Mauriatian authorities did respond and sent the necessary documents but the Malaysian government did not respond to CBI's request, for information about payments to Kalanidhi Maran.

CBI officials draw parallels between the alleged Aircel quid pro quo with the Kanimozhi case, where CBI itself, had listed as many as 14 reasons to buttress their claim that the Rs200 crore equity investment/ loan in Kalaignar TV was not a genuine business transaction but a wuid pro quo.

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