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Special CBI court sends Dayanidhi Maran’s secretary, two others to judicial custody

A special CBI court on Thursday sent former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran’s private secretary and two others to judicial custody till February 4. 

The court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to also file before January 27 its response to the bail plea filed by the trio, who have been taken to Puzhai prison. The CBI’s plea for police custody will be heard Friday.

On Wedesday night CBI arrested V Gowthaman, additional private secretary of Dayanithi Maran when he was a minister in the central government, along with S Kannan, chief technical officer and L S Ravi, electrician, both from Sun TV Network, run by Dayanidhi Maran’s brother, Kalanithi Maran. The case was related to the alleged allotment of over 300 telephone lines to Maran’s house when he was the telecom minister.

The three were arrested to “collect some crucial evidence” which may come up during their questioning, CBI said, adding that they would be produced before a designated court in Chennai tomorrow.

CBI has named Maran and BSNL officials, including the then Chief General Manager K Bramhanathan and MP Veluswami in the FIR filed in October 2013 following a preliminary enquiry in which the agency claimed to have found enough material to proceed with a regular case against the former minister.

CBI alleged nearly 323 residential lines were allegedly in the name of the BSNL General Manager connecting the Boat House residence of Maran with the office of Sun TV through a dedicated underground cable during his tenure as Telecom Minister.

The probe had started in 2011, nearly four years after getting complaints that a ‘virtual’ telephone exchange was allegedly set-up at the then Telecom Minister’s house for facilitating data transfer from Sun TV. These lines were allegedly costly ISDN lines capable of carrying large amounts of data, thus facilitating faster transmission of TV news and programmes across the globe.

CBI had in its report to the Telecom Secretary alleged these lines were for use of large commercial enterprises to meet special needs such as video conferencing or transmission of huge volume of digital data for which heavy fee is charged but Sun TV got it for free.

Maran, however, has alleged that the CBI has put pressure on the three to complain against him in the case. 

Maran alleged that the CBI is trying to fix the case to satisfy the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the so-called Sangh Parivar, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party is part. 

He was speaking to the media in the wake of the arrests in connection with the alleged allotment of over 300 telephone lines to Maran’s house, when he was the union telecom minister. 

Maran said that the CBI had ill-treated the detainees and tried to force them to provide false statement implicating Maran; when they refused, he alleged, the agency arrested them, but promised to release them if they gave a statement against Maran. The persons arrested had already been co-operating with the investigation over the past several months, he said, adding that there was a political motive behind the case.

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