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Licences to be seized if Aircel-Maxis don't appear in court: SC

The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday threatened to revoke and transfer the 2G spectrum licences of the Malaysia-based Aircel Maxis, if its promoter and the director failed to respond to the final summons and appear in court on January 27.

Malaysian national and promoter of Aircel-Maxis T Ananthakrishnan and director Ralph Marshall were directed to appear in court on January 27 by a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) J Khehar.

“We can’t allow anyone to use the assets of this country and run away from the process of law…if he wants to use the spectrum, he must come here and face the law,” the court said.

Krishnan, Marshall, and two firms, Astro All Asia Network PLC and Maxis Communication Berhad, all Malaysia-based, are the four accused in the multi-crore 2G scam.

Friday’s order was passed after the four ignored repeated summons by a SC-constituted special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court. The four were among eight named by the CBI in its charge sheet on August 29, 2014.

The apex court also stayed the sale and transfer of the company’s licences to any other company. To compel the accused to appear, the SC said that it would pass an order restraining the company from earning revenues from its 2G spectrum.

“We cannot tolerate a person to use rare national resources like spectrum and not honour the court’s notice,” the Bench said. It further directed the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Communication and Telecom to be prepared to ensure that Aircel subscribers are not affected and they get services from some other network provider.

The Centre was also directed to publish these summons in two leading newspapers in Malaysia so that Maxis and others are officially apprised of the mandate. The SC has decided to hear the matter on February 3.

Special Judge OP Saini, presiding over all 2G matters in Patiala Court, had issued warrants against the four in September 2016 in response to the CBI’s plea. In its 27-page order, the special court said that the Malaysian authorities have categorically denied to effect the service (in facilitating the production of the accused from Malaysia). In such a situation, the court felt the only way left was to approach the Interpol.

“An open and perpetual warrant of arrest be issued against Ralph Marshall and T Ananthakrishnan as prayed by the prosecution (the CBI),” the special court ruled.

According to the CBI, then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran compelled Chennai-based C Sivasankaran’s telecom company Aircel to sell his majority stake to Maxis.

It was alleged that Maran had forced Sivasankaran to transfer his ownership to Krishnan. In return, the Malaysian company invested in Kalanithi’s Sun Direct, the direct-to-home TV arm of his Sun TV Network Ltd.

In August 2014, the CBI had filed a charge sheet against the eight accused, stating that Dayanidhi had also accepted illegal gratification to the tune of Rs 642 crore, as a quid pro quo through his brother in the garb of overvalued share premium through his company.