Need to interrogate Chidambaram: CBI tells HC

New Delhi, Jan 25 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 1/25/2019 12:47:00 PM IST

The CBI and Enforcement Directorate on Friday asserted before the Delhi High Court that custodial interrogation of Congress leader and former Union minister P. Chidambaram was required in the INX Media case.

The submission was made before Justice Sunil Gaur who was hearing  Chidambaram’s plea seeking anticipatory bail in the corruption and money laundering cases relating to the INX Media scandal. The High Court reserved its order and said that the interim protection from arrest granted to Chidambaram will continue till the decision is passed on his plea for anticipatory bail. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing CBI and ED, contended that the Congress leader was evasive during interrogation and was giving long answers.

He added that  Chidambaram was not disclosing the material that ought to be in his knowledge and the agencies required his custodial interrogation which will be qualitatively different.

While opposing  Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea, the law officer also said the agencies were seeking to exercise their statutory rights for arresting him, producing before the court concerned and taking him on police remand to interrogate him.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for  Chidambaram, said the former finance minister was called for questioning by the CBI only once in June 2018 and he was not even named as an accused in the FIR.

He further said that apparently there are five accused in the case, and four of them are on bail. Regarding the money laundering case,  Sibal said Mr. Chidambaram had joined the investigation several times and whenever called by the agency.

The High Court had earlier extended till January 24  Chidambaram’s interim protection from arrest. The senior Congress leader’s role had come under the scanner of various investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

It was during his tenure as finance minister in the UPA-I government that clearances from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) were given to the two ventures. In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during  Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED had last year lodged the money laundering case in this regard. A trial court here had also granted protection from arrest till August 7, 2018 to  Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case in which he and his son Karti are named in the charge sheet filed by the CBI. Chidambaram’s petition had said that though no summons had ever been served on him by the ED in this case, he had an apprehension of arrest in view of the summons issued to him by the CBI, which was investigating the scheduled offence.

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