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Madras HC disposes of pleas against framing of charges against Marans

Madras HC disposes of pleas against framing of charges against Marans

Chennai, Jan 29 (PTI) The Madras High Court Tuesdaydisposed of a petition challenging a special CBI court order fixing Wednesday for framing of charges in a case of setting up of "illegal" telephone exchanges by former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others.Justice Anand Venkatesh rejected the contention of threeof the accused and made it clear that at the time of framingcharges, the trial court only needs to give the availablematerial to the accused persons and there was no requirementto hear the counsel on the sufficiency of the materials.He was disposing of the petition filed by VedagiriGowthaman, Dayanidhi Maran's private secretary, S Kannan, and K S Ravi, who are among the seven accused, seeking to quash Monday's order of Additional Judge for CBI cases fixing Wednesday for framing charges."There is no such procedure contemplated under Sections 239 and 240 of CrPC that the trial court has to hear the counsel on the sufficiency of the materials for framingcharges," Justice Venkatesh said. The petitioners sought a direction to the CBI judge tohear all the parties on framing of charges and look into theavailability or otherwise of materials on record as againsteach accused.Senior counsels for the petitioners submitted that trialcourt was proceeding to frame charges based on the assumption that the materials were already available on record and the prosecution has given draft charges. In view of the specific clarification given by theSupreme Court, the trial court cannot proceed to frame thecharges based on assumptions and the trial court has tonecessarily look into the materials that have already beencollected by the prosecution, they claimed.Rejecting the contentions, the judge said the apexcourt had given a clear direction to the trial court as to themanner in which the charges will have to be framed. Therefore except for reiterating the order passed by theSupreme Court, there was nothing new that can be added by this court, Justice Venkatesh said. The case relates to the UPA 1 government period whenDayanidhi, a grandnephew of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi, was the minister for communications and information technology.The CBI has alleged he misused his official position andgot private telephone exchanges installed at his residenceshere which were used for business transactions of the SunNetwork, owned by his brother Kalanithi Maran. On March 14 last year, the CBI court here discharged allthe accused, holding there was no prima facie case againstthem. But, the Madras High Court on July 25 last quashed theorder, holding there was 'heaps' of materials against theMaran brothers and other accused to proceed. The high court order was challenged by Dayanidhi in theSupreme Court which upheld it and directed him to face trialin the special court. According to the CBI, over 700 high-end telecommunication lines were installed at the Maran's residences in Boat Club and Gopalapuram areas of the city forwhich bills were not raised, causing the exchequer a loss ofRs 1.78 crore during 2004-06. PTI CORR VS ZMN