Maran case: SC stays HC order on bail; slams CBI

Dayanidhi MaranThe Supreme Court today stayed the Madras High Court order cancelling former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran's anticipatory bail in the illegal telephone exchange case, even as it it slammed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for doing nothing for over two years since 2013, IANS reported.

Issuing notice to the CBI, the court asked the probe agency to respond to Maran's challenge in two weeks. The court posted the next hearing on September 14.

Justice T S Thakur asked whether political vendetta was behind the push for Maran's arrest. Asking the CBI whether it was trying to "fix" him, Justice Thakur asked, ''Why the CBI need to arrest a man for R1 crore pending phone bill?. When the FIR was filed in 2013, why didn't you make any arrest? What were you doing for nearly three years?''

The bench, which initially posed tough questions to Maran's counsel, later turned the heat on the CBI and questioned its insistence on custodial interrogation.

"In the NRHM scam in UP, there is a loss of Rs800 crore public money. But not a single arrest. Here you want to arrest for 1 crore phone bill dues. Are you trying to get at him?" asked Justice Thakur to the CBI.

''If you think the phone lines were fixed as part of conspiracy, question him, question the BSNL officials. Why arrest him?" he said.

"Is it a matter of prestige for you to arrest him? Nobody should get away after causing public loss ... but custodial interrogation?. How did you assess the 1-crore loss? You say no bills were raised. Anyway he is willing to pay? You raise the bill now and he will pay up," Justice Thakur said.

Immediately, Shyam Diwan, appearing for Maran, said, "There is no criminality in this case, only monetary claim. We will pay if any dues".

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for CBI referred to the facts of the case to stress that it was a huge corruption case and said, "Maran used clout in government to fix lines for use of the huge media house Sun TV that his family runs.

"We want his custody to prove the conspiracy involving Maran, Sun TV network and BSNL", the A-G appealed.

"People overstay in official bungalows... can you call that corruption?, Justice Thakur asked the CBI.

"Why should anticipatory bail not be allowed in economic offence cases? You have to explain your objection", Justice V. Gopala Gowda asked the CBI.