A special court for CBI cases discharged former Union minister Dayanidhi Maran and his elder brother Kalanidhi Maran, along with five others, from the decade-old illegal telephone exchange case on Wednesday.
The others, who were discharged in the case, were BSNL's former Chief General Manager K Brahmanathan and former Deputy General Manager M Velusamy, the former minister's Personal Secretary V Gowthaman, and Sun TV network employees S Kannan and KS Ravi.
The CBI, in a petition, alleged that between June 2004 and December 2006, Dayanidhi Maran had misused his power and installed an illegal telephone exchange at his residences in Chennai, which was connected to facilitate business transactions involving his brother's Media company-Sun Network.
The CBI alleged that Dayanidhi Maran used 764 telephone links and for which no bills were raised causing a loss of Rs 1.78 crore to BSNL, Chennai and MTNL, Delhi when he was telecom minister. The seven accused had filed a discharge petition which the court allowed on the grounds of lack of prima facie material against them.
Passing the verdict in less than two minutes, the judge said that there was no prima facie case made out in the charges framed against them.
While seeking their discharge, the Maran brothers told the court that CBI had failed to understand the latest technology and hence pursued the case. More than 700 telecom lines were installed at their residences in Boat Club and Gopalapuram in Chennai, the agency charged.
The counsel for the Maran brothers and others had argued that they are innocent and did not commit any irregularities as alleged by the prosecution.
Senior counsel Kabil Sibal, who had appeared for the Maran brothers, had contended that the case was foisted on them. However, the brothers, with these legal reliefs, are expected to play a significant role in the DMK in the near future.