India opens new probe into possible telecom scam

NEW DELHI, June 2, 2011 (AFP) – India, reeling from a telecom graft scandal that has forced the resignation of one minister, is conducting an investigation into the actions of his predecessor in the job, police said Thursday. India’s top federal police agency said it was conducting a “preliminary investigation” into the activities of former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, who currently serves as textile minister in the embattled Congress government.

The inquiry was launched to “see if there is any evidence of any conspiracy, any rules flouted,” Dharini Mishra, a spokeswoman for the Central Bureau of Investigation, told AFP.

At the weekend, investigative magazine Tehelka published a cover story alleging that Maran’s family-owned Sun TV Network received kickbacks from a foreign firm in return for favours in granting mobile licences.

News of the probe came a day after Maran, who served as telecom minister between May 2004 and May 2007, strongly rejected the Tehelka accusations.

“I vouch that during my tenure as minister of communications and information technology, I was totally impartial in taking decisions. I have not favoured any company over others,” the southern Indian politician told reporters.