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Aircel-Maxis + ‘Chidambaram’ Case: All You Needed to Know

Aircel Maxis Timeliner

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on November 26, 2018, has informed the Delhi Court that it has obtained sanction from the Central Government to prosecute P.Chidambaram, a senior Congress leader, in Aircel-Maxis deal case.  P.Chidambaram is facing probes in many other cases too.

We decoded this case and simplified it for the readers.

What is the Aircel-Maxis Case?
  • Dayanidhi Maran, as the Telecom Minister in the UPA Government between 2004 and 2007, allegedly misused his office to extend favours to Ananda Krishnan, owner of Maxis (a Malaysian Telecom Firm), to acquire Indian telecom company Aircel. It has also been alleged that Dayanidhi Maran delayed the spectrum license as long as C.Sivasankaran was the owner of Aircel.
  • In return, Maxis reportedly made an investment in the Sun TV Network, owned by the Maran family, through a sister concern between 2007 and 2009.
  • Chidambaram is linked to this case due to his alleged role in granting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval worth Rs 3500 crore to Global Communication Holding Services, a subsidiary of Maxis, for investing in Aircel. Moreover, he allegedly bypassed the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) because as the Finance Minister, P.Chidambaram had the power to approve FDI up to the amount of Rs 600 crore only. As per the rules, any investment more than this limit should have been passed by the CCEA.
  • It has also been alleged that Karti Chidambaram, son of P.Chidambaram had received payments from both Aircel and Maxis, after the FIPB clearance.
Aircel-Maxis Case: Timeliner

2006:

  • Maxis, a Malaysian company owned by T Ananda Krishnan, reportedly bought Aircel, an Indian Telecom Company owned by C Sivasankaran, by acquiring 74% stakes in it.

2007:

  • It has been alleged that Maxis invested (2007-2009) 742 crore in Sun Direct.
  • According to Tofler, Kalanithi Maran and Kavery Kalanithi are full-time Directors in Sun TV Network.
  • Kalanithi Maran is the brother of Dayanidhi Maran, who was the Union Minister of Telecommunication during UPA-I between 2004 and 2007.

2011:

  • Aircel owner, C.Sivasankaran filed a complaint with the CBI alleging that Marans arm-twisted him to sell his stakes in Aircel to Maxis. This brought the Aircel-Maxis Deal under CBI’s scanner.
  • In the same year, CBI filed a case alleging that the C.Sivasankaran was forced to sell his stakes to Maxis as his application for spectrum license was delayed.

2014:

  • When the Modi Government took charge, a speedier probe in the case began. CBI filed the charge sheet against the Maran brothers and also named T. Ananda Krishnan, owner of Maxis along with Ralph Marshall, a senior executive of Maxis, and four other companies, including the Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd.
  • In the same year, a special 2G court summoned the Maran brothers as accused in connection with the Aircel-Maxis case, to be present on March 02, 2015.
  • Also, in the same year, CBI examined the former Finance Minister P.Chidambaram for his alleged role in granting FIPB clearance to Maxis which later allegedly paid back to his son, Karti Chidambaram.

2015:

  • Maran brothers moved to the apex court challenging the summon issued by the special 2G court arguing that there was no connection between the two cases. Supreme Court refused to intervene with the summon order issued by the special 2G court.
  • In the same year, Enforcement Directorate (ED) reportedly  attached the assets, estimated at about Rs. 742 crore, held by Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and his wife Kaveri Kalanithi.
  • Also, in the same year, CBI filed the status report in the Supreme Court on the progress of the 2G case in which it also included the investigation about the former Finance Minister, P.Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case in which he had allegedly favoured the Maxis by giving FIPB clearance.

2016:

  • ED filed charge sheets against the Maran brothers and Kavery Kalanithi for the alleged money laundering in the case. CBI was already probing it for alleged corruption charges in the case. ED said that Dayanidhi Maran received the illegal gratification of Rs 742 crore and it was parked in the firm of his brother Kalanithi Maran.
  • A special court in Delhi summoned the Maran brothers and Kavery Kalanithi as accused in the Aircel-Maxis case.

2017:

  • Delhi special court drops all the charges against all the accused in the Aircel-Maxis case.
  • But, with continuous perusal of the case by Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader, CBI informed the Supreme Court that it is investigating the role of the former Finance Minister, P.Chidambaram in granting the FIPB clearance. ED also filed the status report in the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope on the progress in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

2018:

  • ED conducted the search on the properties linked to Karti Chidambaram.
  • ED recorded the statements of Karti Chidambaram.
  • It also questioned P.Chidambaram twice in the month of June 2018.
  • In the same month, ED charge sheeted Karti Chidambaram.
  • Later, CBI charge sheeted both the former Finance Minister, P.Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram for their alleged role in Aircel-Maxis case in July 2018.
  • In October 2018, ED filed an additional supplementary charge sheet naming P Chidambaram who was not made accused in the first charge sheet by the ED.

November 2018:

  • Responding to the court, which had earlier pulled up CBI for charge sheeting them without proper sanction, in an application to the court, it said,

“The competent authority in the Central Government has accorded sanction for prosecution of accused P.Chidambaram under section 197 of CrPC and section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (as amended in 2018) and the same is being filed herewith.”

  • Thus, the Central Government gave power to CBI to prosecute P.Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case. It is to recall that CBI had earlier charge sheeted both father and son on July 19, 2018.