SC stays proceedings on ED’s attachment of Maran’s SUN TV assets

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the proceedings before the adjudicating authority on the Enforcement Directorate’s provisional order attaching Maran family owned Sun TV’s assets worth Rs.742.6 crore in an alleged money laundering case rooted in controversial Aircel-Maxis deal.

A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy excluded the operation of 180 days limit within which adjudicating authority has to decide on the ED’s order attaching the assets, failing which the attachment order goes.

The court order came as senior counsel Anand Grover appearing for ED told the 2G bench that it has not only to stay the proceedings but has also exempt the stay from the rider of 180 days’ time limit otherwise the attachment order would get frustrated.

Grover, who appeared in his capacity as special public prosecutor before the trial court hearing 2G cases, told the court that on this issue, both the prosecution and Maran’s Sun TV who has challenged the attachment order before the apex court were on the same page.

Appearing for Marans, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “I have no problem either way. You stay or exclude the period of 180 days.”

Initially the court told Grover that he could bring to the notice of the adjudicating authority on the next date of hearing that the matter is pending before the apex court and he should not proceed in the matter.

“You bring to the notice of the judge that this matter is pending before the apex court. The court will not proceed further in the matter,” Chief Justice Dattu told Grover who was insisting that court should stay the proceedings coupled with exclusion of 180 days’ time limit as it was requirement under the PMLA Act.

Under Section 5 of the PMLA Act, 2002, ED can provisionally attach assets believed to linked to money laundering for 180 days during which the adjudicating authority would decide on the validity of the attachment order. The attachment order would go if the adjudicating authority fails to take a call within this time.

Sun TV has moved the apex court challenging the Enforcement Directorate’s March 31 order attaching its assets worth Rs.742.6 crore in the alleged money laundering case involving Aircel-Maxis deal.

The Sun TV Network has contended that the case relating to the attachment of its properties was not covered by the 2G cases and sought an instant hearing of its challenge to attachment order contending that it feared the execution of the attachment order passed by the ED.

The ED by its March 31 order had attached assets worth Rs.742.6 crore belonging to former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and the latter’s wife, Kaveri Kalanithi.

Sun TV had earlier moved the Madras High Court against the attachment order but it refused to interfere, saying that apex court is seized of the matter and has barred other courts from entertaining any plea rooted in 2G matters.

The ED had registered a case in 2012 taking cognizance of the case earlier filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The matter relates to sale of Aircel to Maxis owned by T. Ananda Krishnan in 2006 wherein Aircel’s original owner C. Sivasankaran had alleged that he was pressured to sell Aircel as it was denied licences.

The CBI had alleged quid pro quo saying that in return, the Malaysian company had invested crores in Sun TV owned by the Marans.

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