Corruption is a way of life in India. Indians in general do not treat corruption as a major issue in comparison to some of the other far less significant (not insignificant) issues like Jallikattu ban, whether women should be allowed inside Sabari Mala and Haji Ali, who killed Sheena Bohra, analyzing if there are more beautiful women than Priyanka Vadra in the Congress, whether SRK starrer Raees and Aamir Khan starrer Dangal should be watched or boycotted and so on. Many politicians and bureaucrats, who have misused their offices for personal gains are now scot-free and majority of the people in India do not seem to have any issues with it. On the contrary, we have seen numerous examples when politicians, who have been convicted of corruption manage to generate a sympathy wave among the public and do better than expected in the next election. Numerous examples can be cited where the popularity of such leaders have only increased after the scams. A Raja in Tamil Nadu, BS Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers in Karnataka, Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra are some of the living examples of people who have misused their public office, are not in jail and their popularity is still intact in their respective bastions. The latest politician, who has been given a ‘clean chit’ by the courts is Dayanidhi Maran.
Dayanidhi Maran, along with his brother Kalanidhi Maran, thereby dealing a heavy blow to the CBI and Enforcement Directorate that has been probing the politically significant case for years now. Let us now look at what exactly is the Aircel Maxis case and the magnitude of money involved here.
The Aircel Maxis scam has its roots in the infamous 2G spectrum scam. Aircel is an India network company founded by entrepreneur C Sivasankaran. Sivasankaran complained to the CBI about being forced by Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran to sell 74% stake to Malaysian based Maxis Communications, owned by T Ananda Krishnan. Ananda Krishnan is a Malaysian tamil citizen of Sri Lankan origin and has alleged links with the LTTE. The two Maran brothers received kickbacks in the form of investments by the Maxis Group in Sun TV Networks, owned by the Maran family. During the investigation, CBI found substantial evidence that Maran had favored the company’s take-over by Maxis and the ED registered a money-laundering case against the Maran brothers for receiving an illegal compensation of around 550 crore rupees. The CBI filed a chargesheet against the two Maran brothers, Ananda Krishnan, Malaysian national Augustus Marshall and four firms Sun Direct TV, Maxis Communications, Astro All Asian Network PLC (which is a part of the Sun Network) and South Asia Entertainment Holding in the case. CBI apparently had enough evidence to proceed with the prosecution and summoned Dayanidhi Maran and subsequently attached his properties worth 742 crore rupees.
Apart from the Maran brothers, were there other big fishes involved in this scam? In most of the scams during the UPA regime, the then Finance/Home minister P Chidambaram had a major role to play. The Aircel Maxis scam was no exception. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram indirectly owned a company by name Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited, which had loaned Rs 26 Lakhs to Aircel. During the takeover, Chidambaram ensured that that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance in the deal would be obtained only if his son Karti controlled company gets a five per cent share in Aircel.
Despite the CBI having a water-tight case against all the accused, a Special CBI Court in Delhi dropped all charges brought by both CBI and ED against Dayanidhi Maran and all the others accused in the case. The reasons given by the court for acquittal are lack of evidence, contradictory statements from the witnesses, speculations and surmises by Mr Sivasankaran and no evidence to prove the kickbacks. The Marans are already playing the victim card to the hilt claiming a political controversy. DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi has already made the oft-heard statement ‘justice has finally prevailed’.
How in the world has justice prevailed here?
Like most of the corruption cases in India, justice has again ended up on the losing side despite the CBI having all the necessary evidence of the Dayanidhi Maran and his brother receiving a huge kickback.
Money power and political clout has again won the battle against justice. For the common Indian like you and me, the feeling is ‘we’ve seen it all before’. Can the judiciary in our country, for once, just once, ensure that a top politician involved in a mind boggling scam of huge proportion is sent to jail and serves his full jail term? Only then can the courts claim to be ‘honorable’, which is the term often attributed to them.
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