Court asks NGO to explain giving clean chit to Maran

Taking serious note of an article that appeared in Telecom Live magazine and a letter written by NGO Telecom Watchdog to the CBI, giving clean chit to the former Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, in the 2G case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sought an explanation from the Secretary of the NGO, Anil Kumar, to spell out the reason for writing such a letter.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and K.S. Radhakrishnan passed this order following a submission made by senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, that Telecom Live published an article giving a clean chit to Mr. Maran, against whom an FIR was registered for allegedly coercing the former chairman of Aircel, C. Sivasankaran, to sell his stakes to Malaysian firm Maxis.

He said Mr. Kumar's petition, seeking a probe against Mr. Maran, was pending before the Supreme Court and by publishing the article he had turned turtle. In the letter, Mr. Kumar wanted a case registered against Mr. Sivasankaran and the case against Mr. Maran dropped.

Mr. Kumar had alleged Mr. Sivasankaran of cooking up a story to extract money from Maxis, and thus from being a victim he became an accused, Mr. Venugopal said. Both the article and the letter would amount to interference and threat to the ongoing probe.

The Bench, after perusing the letter and the article, directed Mr. Kumar to explain in seven days under what circumstances he wrote the letter, dated February 5, 2012, virtually exonerating Mr. Maran and accusing Mr. Sivasankaran, who has been shown as victim in earlier applications and what prompted him to publish an article when the matter is before us.”

Justice Singhvi told Mr. Venugopal “the CBI should treat the letter as a scrap of paper, which is to be thrown in dustbin.”

The Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Telecom Watchdog and journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta had jointly filed the petition for a probe against Mr. Maran.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Telecom Watchdog, said Mr. Kumar had not informed him about the publication of the article in the magazine and the letter written to the CBI. He continued his arguments explaining the role of the then Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, in the fixation of price in 2G spectrum allocation. The arguments will continue on Thursday.

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