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Madras HC reserves order on Sun TV and Kal Comm petition against ED attachment order

MUMBAI: The Madras High Court has reserved its orders on the petitions filed by Kalanithi Maran-controlled Sun TV and Kal Communications seeking a stay on the Enforcement Directorate directive attaching their immovable properties.

Justice M Sathyanarayanan reserved the orders after hearing arguments made by Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan and senior counsel P S Rama. Rajagopalan stated that the petition could not be entertained as a Supreme Court directive had restrained other courts from interfering in 2G scam cases.

Arguing that the attachment order should be quashed, Raman reiterated that the properties were bought well before the alleged 2G scam. Responding to this, Rajagopalan said the monetary benefit from the scam had been infused into the petitioners’ business.

The petitions challenged the 31 March provisional attachment order of ED attaching assets worth Rs 742.58 crore in the name of former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his businessman brother Kalanithi Maran and other family members under provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Rajagopalan, who appeared on behalf of ED, said the Aircel-Maxis case arose out of the 2G spectrum case which is being monitored by the Supreme Court. He further said any orders would impede the investigation.

Countering the view, the petitioner’s counsel Raman argued that the 2G spectrum case shall not stand in the way (of this petition). He also said the residential properties of the petitioners were also attached and the valuation done at the ‘whims and fancies’ of the ED.

Raman contended that the properties were acquired much before the investigating agencies commenced their probe into the Aircel Maxis case and questioned why properties of other firms accused in the case have not been attached.

He submitted that the petitioners would give an unconditional undertaking not to alienate the properties till the criminal case was over.

The properties of Sun TV and Kal Communications in Tiruchirappalli and Bengaluru have been attached by ED in the case filed by CBI on 20 September 2011 for alleged illegal gratification amounting to Rs 742.58 crore received by Dayanidhi Maran under the guise of investments in Sun Direct Television Private Limited (SDTPL) and South Asia FM Limited (SAFL) companies.

It was alleged by CBI that the illegal gratification was received during December 2007 to 2011. CBI has further alleged that proceeds of the crime were infused in the aforesaid companies and transformed into various types of properties.

Sun TV’s alleged involvement in the case is the reason why the Home Ministry has refused to give security clearance to the network’s radio stations operating as Suryan FM in Tamil Nadu and Red FM in the rest of the country.

The network had recently approached the Madras High Court seeking relief in the matter.