The Supreme Court will hear on February 10, a plea by 2G scam cases Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover seeking that assets belonging to former Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi should not be released in the wake of their discharge in the Aircel-Maxis case by the trial court.
The assets which were attached by the Directorate of Enforcement were ordered to be released by the trial court on Thursday after it dropped charges against the Marans and others in the alleged kickback of Rs 742 crore in the Aircel-Maxis deal, saying that the “perception of suspicion” was not backed by concrete evidence.
Asking Grover, who appeared for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2G scam cases before the special court, to prepare his plea and address the court on next hearing, the bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also asked him how he could approach the top court directly without approaching the Delhi High Court.
As Grover cited two apex orders of 2011 – February 10 and April 11 – that any appeal against the trial court order would lie before it only and no other court, the bench said that these two orders were in respect of investigations and the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor and his assisting counsel.
It said that these orders were modified on November 3, 2015 to give the accused in 2G scam cases a chance to approach the Delhi High Court against the final order of the special court holding the trial of 2G scam-related cases.
Asking Grover to come prepared to address the court on issues including as to why he should not approach the High Court and come directly to the top court, the court directed the hearing of the matter on Wednesday which was later changed to Friday (February 10).
Grover, telling the court that the CBI would be filing an appeal against the trial court order acquitting the Maran brothers but it would take time as it involves a process, said that he has moved in his capacity as Special Public Prosecutor for a limited prayer that the attached properties should not be released as ordered by the trial court.
He also demanded that the Marans be asked to furnish a bail bond till the investigating agency files an appeal. At this, the bench asked if the trial court has held that they (attached properties) were not the proceeds of crime then where is the money laundering case.
Appearing for NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that they understood that the CBI is going to challenge the trial court’s order and if it does not, “we will”.
“If they (Maran brothers) are allowed to get back the property and they may sell it, then the whole object of this provisional attachment would be defeated,” he said.
The CBI had alleged that Dayanidhi Maran, as Minister in the UPA-I government, used his influence to help Malaysian businessman T.A. Ananda Krishnan buy Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran to part with his stake.
Sivasankaran alleged that Maran favoured the Maxis Group in the takeover of his company. In return, he alleged, the company made investments through Astro Network in a company stated to be owned by the Maran family.