New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central government on a PIL seeking "thorough and fair" probe by the CBI into the setting up of an illegal telephone exchange by BSNL at the residence of Dayanidhi Maran during his tenure as communications minister.
A bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai issued notice to the government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Maran, Sun TV Network Limited and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) on a PIL by S. Gurumurthy contending that though the telephone exchange with was "fraudulently" set up at Maran's house but in the name of BSNL's chief general manager at Chennai to show as if it was being used by PSU telecom operator.
The PIL said that Maran further got the 323 high speed telephone lines "stealthily and fraudulently smuggled away and linked to the office of SunTV Network (a company promoted by his brother Kalanithi Maran) for use for commercial purposes at the SUN TV network which is a family concern of the Maran family".
The 323 high-speed lines, the PIL contended, were secretly kept out of the telephonic system and records of BSNL and were kept installed at the residence of Maran, even though he was - as a minister - only entitled only couple of telephone lines for his official use and that too at his official residence in Delhi.
The CBI in its preliminary inquiry had estimated that the shifting of these 323 lines from Maran's residene to the office of Sun TV Network in January 2007, by the BSNL had cost PSU and national exchequer about Rs. 440 crores, the PIL said.
Gurumurthy has said that the CBI which had initiated a preliminary investigation into the alleged scam wrote to the telecom secretary Sep 10, 2007 recommending action against the guilty but alleged that the matter got buried because of Maran's political clout.
The PIL said that despite the expose, the investigation into the alleged scam stands where it stood in 2007 and was being scuttled by the government. "The actions of the Government in scuttling/ attempting to scuttle the investigation are arbitrary, malafide and illegal," the PIL said.
"The petitioner has reasons to believe that the investigations into the entire criminal conspiracy and corruption have been virtually aborted on political grounds," the PIL said.
"The prevailing corruption in the country in high places and the unwillingness of the government to initiate any investigation so that the culprits are punished, seriously impairs the right of the people of this country to live in a corruption and criminal free society," it said.
"This", the PIL said was "violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to life guaranteed to the people of this country also includes in its fold the right to live in a society, which is free from crime and corruption," Gurumurthy contended.