Congress MP Karti Chidambaram on Friday said that he has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, alleging that his privileges and rights as a parliamentarian were breached by the Central Bureau of Investigation when its officers conducted a raid last week.
“I have become the victim of a grossly illegal and patently unconstitutional action,” he said in the letter. “The Central Bureau of Investigation, in the garb of conducting an investigation into an 11-year-old decision of the Government of India in which I have absolutely no involvement, raided my residence in Delhi.”
The central agency had conducted the raids at 10 locations in multiple cities in the country on May 17 and filed a case against Chidambaram for allegedly taking bribes to arrange visas for 263 Chinese citizens during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime in 2011. This was when his father, P Chidambaram, was the Union home minister.
In his letter, Karti Chidambaram said that the Central Bureau of Investigation officials seized “highly confidential and sensitive personal notes” related to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information and Technology, of which he is a member.
The MP from Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga constituency said that draft notes and questions that he had prepared to ask to witnesses summoned by the panel were also seized.
“Furthermore, my handwritten notes pertaining to the depositions made to the committee by witnesses were also seized – for reasons best known to the agency,” he wrote.
Chidambaram alleged that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and central investigating agencies have been targeting him and his family by “lodging false cases on after another”.
“Such targeted intimidation of a Member of the House amounts to a breach of privilege,” the Congress leader said. “These actions by the CBI, in so far as they relate to interference with my duties as a Parliamentarian, amount to a direct assault upon the democratic principles on which our Parliament is founded.”
He urged Birla to take note of the matter immediately.
Chinese visas case
In the case against Chidambaram, the Central Bureau of Investigation has alleged that Vikas Makharia, the associate vice-president of the Talwandi Sabo Power thermal power plant in Punjab, had approached Chidambaram’s “close associate” S Bhaskar Raman to reissue project visas for Chinese workers whom he had employed.
Project visas are a special type of visa for employees of the power and steel sector. Guidelines for these visas were issued during P Chidambaram’s tenure as the home minister in 2010, but there was no provision to reuse them.
On Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate had registered a money laundering case against the Congress MP and others on the basis of the Central Bureau of Investigation’s first information report.