The Madras High Court on Wednesday set aside an order, passed by a special court for CBI cases here on March 14, discharging former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his elder brother Kalanithi Maran of Sun TV and five others from the BSNL illegal telephone exchange case. Justice G. Jayachandran allowed a revision petition preferred by the CBI and concurred with Additional Solicitor General G. Rajagopalan that the accused ought not to have been discharged when there was sufficient material to prosecute them. He held that the lower court’s decision was “erroneous, illegal and perverse.” The only opinion any “judicial mind” could form, on the basis of the chargesheet and supporting documents filed by the prosecuting agency, was that “there are grounds to presume all the seven accused have committed offence,” the judge said and directed the special court to frame charges and complete trial within 12 months.

The judge pointed out that a senior counsel, representing Mr. Dayanidhi Maran, had concluded his arguments by stating that the former Telecommunications Minister had rendered yeoman service to the nation by taking the broadband facility to every nook and corner of the country, but now he was being hounded by the CBI for political reasons.

‘Can’t claim privilege’

Unconvinced by the submission, Justice Jayachandran said: “For the sake of rhetoric, one may make such submissions but the records before us speak otherwise. Accused-3 (Dayanidhi Maran) by virtue of the office, might have been instrumental in popularising the broadband facility.

It does not mean that he can claim privilege of unlimited usage of that facility for him, for his brother and his business establishment free of cost.

“In a democratic country, an elected representative can never think like that. Nor the judicial system tolerate and entertain such thought,” the judge said.

During the course of arguments, yet another senior counsel had wondered why a Minister for Telecommunications should not enjoy an exclusive telephone exchange when the Defence Minister was permitted to fly in an exclusive aircraft of the Indian Air Force and the Railways Minister was entitled to travel in an exclusive saloon in trains.

Answering it in his judgement, Justice Jayachandran said: “To this argument, the logical answer could be, ‘Yes, if law permits’.”

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