A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday discharged former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran in an alleged illegal telephone exchange case, said media reports.
According to The Times of India, the court said it was discharging all the seven accused from the case since there was "no prima facie evidence to prove the charges against them."
According to the CBI, Dayanidhi Maran, during the check period of June 2004 to December 2006, when he was the Union minister for communication and information technology, misused his office and installed a private telephone exchange at his residences in Chennai. He then used the facility for business transactions involving the Sun Network, owned by Kalanithi.
The CBI alleged that Maran had caused a loss of Rs 1.78 crore to the exchequer. More than 700 telecom lines were installed at their residences in Boat Club and Gopalapuram in Chennai, the agency charged.
Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanidhi Maran. agencies
Among the accused were former BSNL general manager K Brahmanathan, former deputy general manager M P Velusamy, Dayanidhi Maran's private secretary Gauthaman, and Sun TV officials.
The counsel for the Maran brothers and others had argued that they are innocent and did not commit any irregularities as alleged by the prosecution. On the other hand, the prosecution had said there was prima facie material to proceed against them and wanted the court to dismiss the discharge petitions.
Arguing on the discharge pleas filed by the brothers, their counsel Kabil Sibal had last month contended that the case was foisted on them.
In November, the CBI strongly opposed the discharge petitions filed by the Maran brothers in the case.
When the case came up before the XIV Additional Judge for CBI cases S Natarajan, the CBI strongly opposed the discharge applications moved by the Maran brothers.
Maintaining that all charges framed against them were supported with material and documentary evidence, the CBI wanted the special court to dismiss the discharge applications moved by the duo and also filed an additional affidavit.
With inputs from PTI