Aircel-Maxis deal scam: ED moves SC after special court dropped charges against brothers Dayanidhi and Kalanithi Maran

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the order of a special court that dropped all charges against former Union communication minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran on Thursday. The ED challenged the order on the grounds that the Maran brothers had not furnished their bail bonds properly.

Also read: Aircel-Maxis case: Maran brothers suffer setback; special court dismisses their petition

The special court had dropped the charges in the alleged scam pertaining to the Aircel-Maxis deal. Reacting to the news of the case of the Maran brothers being cleared, shares of Sun TV on Friday had soared nearly 25 percent to Rs 691 from their previous close. 

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What the special court had said

Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge OP Saini, while discharging the siblings, said there was no concrete evidence to prove the allegations of wrongdoing against the Marans, and that “contradictory oral statements” given by witnesses in the case were not acceptable legally. He said in his order: “This is a dangerous trend. If such practice is followed, anybody and everybody in government can be made to face prosecution.”

Justice Saini, in his order, observed that the entire case was “based on the misreading of the official files, contradictory statements of the witnesses as well as speculations and surmises of [Aircel owner] C Sivasankaran.” He added that there was “no prima facie case warranting framing of charge” against any of the accused in the case.

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The cases

The brothers had been accused of accepting kickbacks of around Rs 740 crore in the deal, in charges filed by the CBI. The kickbacks were allegedly in return of Dayanidhi Maran helping Malaysia-based telecommunications company Maxis acquire Aircel. Other allegations included the former union minister sitting on certain permissions for Aircel in an effort to pressure Aircel owner C Sivasankaran to sell his company to Maxis.

On Thursday, the court was hearing two different cases pertaining to the Aircel-Maxis deal. One of them had been lodged by the CBI in 2011, and another by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in 2012. It dropped charges in both the cases, thereby providing relief to not only Dayanidhi and Kalanithi Maran but also Kalanithi’s wife Kavery Kalanithi, South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL) managing director K. Shanmugam and three companies – SAFL and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL) and South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd.

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It may be noted here that the Maran siblings and SDTPM had been named as accused in both cases, with charges being filed against them.

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Adventurers #0 thru #4

Written by: Scott Behkne

Art by: Peter Hsu + Kent Burles

Covers by: Peter Hsu 

Letterer: Ron Kasman 

Adventure Publications + Aircel (issue 2) 

Gimme Gimme Foreshortening!

I really can’t read the tons of bullshit hobbit lore they put in here (but kudos to creative team for doing it.  If you’re invested - fuck it, right?).  The real cream is in the above compositions and the cartoonist switch-up.  Hsu did #1, Burles did the rest.  Burles’ weird, putty anatomy is fun and really shows with his depiction of the dark priest, Coron. 

The skinny: A group of mostly courageous warriors are brought together by Nightwind to help an evil lord retrieve a lot of ancient keys for some nefarious purpose.  In other words, exploited labor invade melty beast’s realms for a few golden bread crumbs.  

Spotlight | The tune we’re humming

Not everyone may like it, but everyone’s singing it—this new campaign is a roaring success


The new campaign for Bharti Airtel Ltd by Taproot India showcases a classroom of college students singing a jingle about why every friend is important.

What did you think of the advertisement?

The core concept itself, of depicting the importance of friends, their networks and how a mobile operator ties it all together, is old hat in the mobile sector space across various markets for more than a decade now. What sets this one apart, though, is the manner in which the idea was fleshed out. The newly appointed agency on Airtel’s roster, independent hot shop Taproot India, seems to have brought back on track an otherwise iconic advertising brand that I feel was losing its way.

Talking of execution per se, ad film-maker Ram Madhvani (of the Happydent ad fame) has skillfully tied all the elements together to deliver a very memorable film. Though I should mention that I find the casting to be a bit of a missed opportunity. 

The other Ram in the mix (no pun intended), music director Ram Sampath, fresh off the success of (Bhaag DK Bose )and the rest of the Delhi Belly soundtrack, has come through with flying colours. I don’t watch much TV, funnily enough, so I haven’t seen it on air yet. But I’ve watched it online three times to write this review, and it has been going on in my head almost non-stop for 24 hours.

And most importantly, the spot really works. Not everyone likes it, but everyone’s humming it. Today, an accomplished adman from the agency that handles Airtel’s biggest competitor told me how people at his office are even slotting their friends into “ghadi-ghadi kaam aaye” and “ghadi-ghadi call kare”.

Do you think this campaign works for the brand?

It does. As I was saying before, the brand seemed to have lost its way. From playing chess with dadaji while enjoying the hospitality of Indian Railways, we suddenly found ourselves on the romantic streets of Prague with a very international vibe. Don’t get me wrong, what JWT did as their opening piece to address what was probably a brief to project the brand as ultra-global (post-Zain acquisition and all) was a beautiful feat of film-making, award-winningly executed by Independent Films’ Philippe Andre. But I really did find the leap difficult to digest. And I’m not even an Airtel consumer.

The same happened back in the summer of 2009, if I remember correctly, when their previous agency, Rediffusion Y&R, aired a campaign with little kids playing outdoors, again with a very international vibe that screamed to have the Airtel logo replaced with Vodafone’s.

So what Taproot and Ram Madhvani have done here is create a very memorable, fun spot that seems to really be in sync with the brand, even though Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and even Aircel come to mind as having barked up the same tree of friends and networking, etc.

What must brands keep in mind when planning a campaign for an extremely crowded category such as telecom?

Distinctiveness and consistency. Of the top few brands in this space, only Vodafone—along with its various antecedents—and Airtel have achieved a distinct brand voice. Idea deserves massive credit for breaking into the distinctive space more recently with their often annoying yet very entertaining What an idea, Sirji. And even more props to (Tata) Docomo for leapfrogging on to the high table within their very short existence, pretty much thanks to that sticky whistle-able jingle. The rest, honestly, are a little behind.

Pugs, Zoozoos, “You and I”, et al, make for a pretty unique Vodaworld. As an aside, I should say that I find Vodafone in other markets to be far less distinctive than we have it here in India. Though Airtel too has a combination of certain elements that define its world, chief among which is its audio mnemonic signature tune, it scores lower on distinctiveness.

And I have to say that—rather counter-intuitively for me—Aircel has managed to create some amount of distinctiveness, purely through (M.S.) Dhoni, even though their advertising is really just same old, same old.

In the age of social networking sites, Twitter and new media, how important is it for the brand campaign to be viral or adaptable?

Very. Because if you’re not ticking those boxes, you can be sure your competitor is. Especially in a young and tech category, being in sync with the zeitgeist and the latest cool thing is all the more important. How you deliver has now become as important as what you deliver.

How integral is the media plan to the success of a good campaign? In this case, it seems to be everywhere—on TV and radio. Does that work well?

Extremely. With such a powerful track, it’s kind of a no-brainer to go on to radio. Whether you tweak your media to suit the idea or you plan it to reach a target audience or fulfil certain objectives, there’s no doubt that the media plan is almost as important, if not as important, as the idea. In several cases, rather too often in our market, we’ve seen that might is right (read: crap ideas that do the job just because they’ve been supported with a pile of cash).

As published in Mint

iPhone 4S isn't for India

Here again one more greedy example of Indian business to get maximum money out of the users. Apple iPhone 4S is selling for the same price in U.S 649 USD. Now the turn comes to India, Airtel and Aircel are bringing the flagship devices to India at hefty price. 44,500 INR. An extra $220 hole in your pocket. Indians are conservative about spending money, of course rich fanboys never mind spending too much money for whatever comes in front of them. But this is really a poor business. People are ready to buy the devices and making use of it. It’s day light robbery.

Both Airtel and Aircel doesn’t have a proper 3G infrastructure and they’re charging so high for the data plans. No matter if you’re in 3G or 2G, you will end up paying the 3G charges always.

iPhone 4 was selling for 34,500 INR ($670 - $700) USD which was OK and they were taking some 15% margin from the U.S price. But this is a joke. I was long awating for iPhone 4S and now this desperates me. It’s not about paying, ultimately we'ere helping Sunil Mittal and other assholes in the top of Forbes Ranking and huge margin we’re paying for nothing. 

On the other hand, the rates for iPhone 4 also increased, rather than decreasing on launching new product.

We’re forced to think about Android as alternative. Galaxy Nexus is a good alternative but if you the know the tricky samsung price, they will also raise the bar as iPhone 4S selling at this price. When iPad was released Samsung immediately reduced 10K INR as (it was selling for 38K INR). There’s no forum to raise the voice, we’re stuck in the dark. It’s not a usual petrol price hike. I remember one of the comments about acquiring Indian companies. “They try to act what they’re not. Also ask for twice or thrice of what they deserve”. It’s the same story here.

The 3G plans are too damn costly with Airtel. 1000/- comes for 1.3GB of data (no matter you use 3G network or 2G network you’ve to pay same 3G charges per packet). The don’t have anything called such family plans or anything. We will have to maintain 2-3 internet connections for gadgets spending 2000 INR to 3000 INR as internet charges + phone charges extra. The telephone tycoons yet to realize what’s QOS, what’s they are deserved for their services.

This would be bidding farewell to apple devices at least for the purchases from India.