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The Supreme Court Wednesday directed NGO Telecom Watchdog to explain its turnaround in stating that Dayanidhi Maran, when he was the communications minister, had not compelled Chennai-based businessman C. Sivasankaran to sell his stake in mobile telephony provider Aircel to Singapore-based Maxis.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice K.S.P. Radhakrishnan passed the order after senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said that NGO secretary Anil Kumar had in a Feb 5 letter to the CBI director contended that it was Sivasankaran who took advantage of the situation and thus was the real beneficiary.

Anil Kumar had also urged the CBI director to stop further investigations in the matter, Venugopal said.

Taking exception to the manner in which the contents of the letter were carried by e-magazine Telecom Live, and the turnaround by Anil Kumar, the court asked him to file an affidavit within a week stating the reasons and circumstances on going back on his earlier stand on which he had approached the apex court, seeking an investigation against Maran.

The court order came during the hearing on petitions by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking to make the then finance minister, P. Chidambaram, a co-accused along with A. Raja, then telecom minister when 2G spectrum prices were decided.

The NGO, besides the CPIL and journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, had sought investigation into Maran’s role created a situation where Sivasankaran – the original owner of Aircel – was forced to sell-off his entire stake in the company to Maxis owned by T. Ananda Krishnan.

Maran was telecom minister from May 23, 2004 to May 15, 2007.

Venugopal told the court that the India-specific investigation into the case was complete and a letter rogatory was pending for the probe in Singapore.

The senior counsel told the court that the entire investigation was based on the complaint by the NGO, which had now taken a U-turn. Venugopal wanted to know if the investigations should continue including proceedings before the court.

On a query from the court about other the two complainants – CPIL and Thakurta – the senior counsel said that the credibility of the CPIL was not in doubt as it had done commendable job in the field of public interest litigation and Thakurta too was a journalist of high credibility.


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