SC stays sale of airwaves of Aircel-Maxis to Airtel and Reliance
NEW DELHI,Jan 7: Ahead of a Delhi trial court deciding on framing of charges in a 2G spectrum case relating to a controversial takeover of Aircel by Malaysian company Maxis in 2006, the Supreme Court stayed the proposed sale of airwaves by Aircel-Maxis to Airtel and Reliance Communications.
It was alleged that then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran had arm-twisted Aircel owner C Sivasankaran to sell his majority stake to Maxis group owned by Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan.
Immediately after Maxis got majority stake in Aircel, it was granted 2G spectrum in November 2006.
Maxis allegedly invested Rs 600 crore with a Maran-owned TV channel as a quid pro quo. In August 2014, CBI had filed a chargesheet against Maran, Ananda Krishnan and others. The trial court’s repeated summons to Ananda Krishnan, Maxis and others accused have so far gone unanswered.
Taking strong exception to Maxis group and Ananda Krishnan’s non-appearance, a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachudsaid, “he must come to India and present himself before the court if he is using the national assets (2G spectrum). We will not tolerate him enjoying the assets of the nation and run away from the law of the country,” the bench said. “We want to secure his presence before us. We want to give him full opportunity to present his side,” the bench assured, but warned of consequences if they failed to appear before the SC on January 27, the next date of hearing.
The bench also said: “Restraint of use of 2G spectrum licence will obviously entail adverse consequences to the subscribers. We do not wish our order to have any such impact. We direct the telecom department and the ministry of communication and information technology to devise ways and means whereby the earlier licence granted in favour of Aircel can be transferred to some other telecom operator. It is open to Ananda Krishnan and Maxis to appear before the Supreme Court, failing which the proposed order will be passed.”
“If the proposed order is passed, none of the accused can raise the issue of monetary loss arising from it,” the bench said and asked the ministry to inform the court on January 27 about modalities for transfer of spectrum from Aircel-Maxis to another telecom operator if the accused failed to submit themselves to the Indian law. The court asked the Union government to publish this order of the SC in two leading dailies of Malaysia.
Appearing for NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), Prashant Bhushan argued that”if the deal of Aircel with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications is allowed to go through, then that would allow Maxis to escape the arms of law and abscond with thousands of crores of rupees. The spectrum held by Aircel needed to be attached immediately.”