Sc Slams Brakes On Aircel

The bench said, “If he (Krishnan) is going to use an asset belonging to this country, he may be anywhere in the world but must appear before us” 

New Delhi :  The Supreme Court on Friday halted mobile phone company Aircel from selling its airways over alleged corruption involving former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and threatened to cancel its 2G spectrum licence if its parent Malaysia-based Maxis Group and its boss T Ananda Krishnan evades summons to appear before the trial court.

The development may delay the Aircel’s proposed deal with rival Reliance Communications. Aircel is the fifth largest GSM mobile service provider with a claimed subscriber base of 65.1 million with its pan-India presence across 23 circles as also 3G licence for 13 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, Punjab, West Bengal, J&K, Bihar and NorthEast.”If he (Krishnan) is going to use an asset belonging to this country, he may be anywhere in the world but must appear before us,” the court said the Bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, justices N.V. Ramana and D.Y. Chandrachud in an oral observation.

The court was hearing a plea filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), a non-profit NGO led by advocate Prashant Bhushan to restrain Aircel from selling spectrum. Aircel had concluded two deals in 2016 with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications for sharing spectrum.

Maxis Group, a Malaysian company, owns 74% stake in Aircel, which was originally granted 2G spectrum licences in November 2006.

In September 2016, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Delhi had issued open bailable warrants against Krishnan, a Malaysian citizen, as an accused in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case. Interpol is currently in the process of serving summons to the Malaysian accused.The case relates to allegations of irregularities by Dayanidhi Maran when he was communications minister between 2004 and 2007. Maran allegedly stalled approvals needed by telecom services provider Aircel Ltd and forced C. Sivaramakrisnan, then owner of the telecom firm, to sell his company to Malaysia-based Maxis Communications.

In return, Krishnan’s group company invested around Rs 629 crore in the Sun Group, owned by Maran’s brother Kalanithi. Once Sivasankaran sold his stake, it is alleged, Aircel almost immediately got all necessary approvals from the government.

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