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The Madras High Court has rejected the plea by Maran brothers—former Union Minister Dayanidhi and his brother and SUN TV owner Kalanidhi—to quash charges framed against them by a CBI court in the illegal telephone exchange case.

A CBI court had in August framed the charges and ordered trial of the former Minister and others in the case of alleged setting up of “illegal” telephone exchanges to benefit the Sun TV Network during 2004-06. According to the CBI, Dayanidhi Maran, during his tenure as Union Minister from 2004 to 2007 in the UPA Government led by Manmohan Singh, misused his office and installed a private telephone exchange at his residences in Chennai and used the network for the commercial telecasting business of the Sun Network, owned by his brother. The investigating agency had told the trial court that exchequer had lost Rs 1.78 crore because of the illegal telephone exchange.

The Madras High Court had on October 25 reserved its order on the petitions filed by Maran brothers challenging the framing of charges

Justice AD Jagadish Chandira rejected the plea by Maran brothers to quash charges against them.

Special Judge R Vasanthi framed the charges over a month after the Madras High Court quashed the CBI court’s earlier order discharging all the accused.

The Maran brothers have sought quashing of the charges against them.

The charges date back to the time when Dayanidhi Maran, a grandnephew of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi, was the Union minister for telecommunications and information technology in the UPA-1 government.

The CBI has alleged that he misused his official position and got private telephone exchanges installed at his various residences here which were used for business transactions of the Sun Network.

The high court had on July 25 held there were ‘heaps’ of material evidence against the accused and had directed the special court to frame charges and conclude the trial within a year.

The bench had given its order on a CBI plea challenging the discharge of the accused by Special Judge S Natarajan on March 14 this year.

—India Legal Bureau

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