The Madras High Court on Wednesday refused to revoke charges framed against former Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran in the "illegal" telephone exchange case, rebuking them for approaching the court for the third time at this stage.
Directing the CBI court to complete the proceedings within four months, Justice N Anand Venkatesh said if the petitioners adopt any dilatory tactics, it was open to the trial court to insist upon their presence and remand them in custody as laid down by the Supreme Court.
He said the court was convinced that the trial court had fulfilled all the requirements before framing the charges and there was absolutely no ground to interfere with it.
Judge R Vasanthi of the XXIV Additional Sessions Court for CBI cases had on January 30 framed the charges against each of the seven accused for offences under the Indian Penal Code -- criminal conspiracy (section 120-B), criminal breach of trust (409) and cheating (420) -- and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Dayanidhi Maran misused his official position as the then minister for communications and information technology in the UPA I government and got private telephone exchanges installed at his residences here which were used for business transactions of the Sun Network, owned by his brother Kalanithi Maran, during 2004-06.
It claimed over 700 high-speed telecommunication lines were installed for which bills were not raised by BSNL, causing the exchequer a loss of Rs 1.78 crore.
The Maran brothers and five other accused, who have denied the charges against them in the trial court, in their present petition sought quashing of the charges framed against them, contending that relevant guidelines were not followed by the trial court.
Rejecting their plea, Justice Venkatesh said this was the third time the high court was called upon to interfere with the proceedings in the trial court at the stage of framing of charges.