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2G scam: Maran comes under SC scanner

New Delhi: Union Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran has come under the Supreme Court`s scanner in the 2G Spectrum allocation scam with the CBI raking up his role in "forcing" a Chennai-based telecom promoter to sell his stakes in Aircel to a Malaysian firm in 2006.

The agency, which placed its 71-page fresh status report about the 2G scam, said that during 2004-07 when Maran was telecom Minister, the promoter C Sivasankaran, was forced to sell the stake in Aircel to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group.

Senior Advocate K K Venugopal, who read the status report before a bench of justice G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly, did not take Maran`s name but stated that the Chennai business man was not granted UAS licence for two years.

It said that the Malaysian firm was favoured by Maran and was granted licence within six months after taking over the Aircel in December 2006. Maran was the Telecom Minister between February 2004 and May, 2007.

"The gentleman (promoter of Aircel) had been knocking at various doors but was left with no choice but to sell his shares to a Malaysian form," said Venugopal, representing CBI, while reading out from the status report that was filed in a sealed cover.

Earlier, an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had placed documents before the apex court showing the alleged role of Maran in favouring Maxis group of Malaysia which had bought Chennai-based telecom company, Aircel, owned by Siva Group, when he was Telecom Minister from 2004 to 2007.

The CPIL had alleged Maran, who is now Union Textile Minister, had during his tenure as Telecom Minister granted 14 licences to Aircel which invested Rs 599.01 crore in his family-owned business.

Later, he allegedly delayed the award of UAS licenses to Aircel which had been applying with the DoT since 2004 by raising irrelevant issues from time to time ignoring the request of its owner C Sivasankaran to resolve them, following which he sold the company to Maxis group owned by Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan.

Sivasankaran had appeared before the CBI last month and had recorded his statement.

The NGO claimed that after Aircel was taken over by the Maxis, Maran?s family-owned business, Sun TV, received substantial investment from Maxis Group (Aircel) by taking 20 percent equity in Sun Direct.

"Feeling harassed, Sivasankaran was forced into selling Aircel. In March 2006, Maxis bought 74 per cent stake in Aircel. The company got the FIPB approval in May 2006. As on March 3, 2006, a total of 14 applications from Aircel were pending in the DoT for award of licenses," the NGO had said.

During the hearing, Venugopal told the court that the CBI is to complete its probe into the money trail, involving the 2G spectrum allocation scam, by August 31.

He also added that the probe into all the irregularities in the spectrum allocation during 2001-08 will be completed within 3 months by September 30.

The bench slated July 11 as the next date of hearing.

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