A Central Bureau of Investigation court in New Delhi on Wednesday sent former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram to CBI custody for a day, ANI reported. The CBI had sought 15-day custody.
The investigating agency told the court that Karti Chidambaram, who is accused of violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act, had made incorrect statements during interrogation about evidence in the INX Media case.
Karti Chidambaram was arrested at Chennai airport earlier on Wednesday after he returned from the United Kingdom. The agency arrested him for not cooperating with its investigators. He was then questioned at the airport lounge and taken to Delhi.
“Karti Chidambaram is evasive in his replies and in the investigation,” the CBI told the court, according to ANI. “He made incorrect statements with respect to the evidence. All of this delays the conclusion of the investigation.”
Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing the former Union minister’s son in the case, told the court that Karti Chidambaram has no connection with Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Limited, which had allegedly received kickbacks. The CBI has alleged that INX Media records state that Rs 10 lakh was given to the firm, which is indirectly owned by Karti Chidambaram.
“The arrest is motivated,” Singhvi said in the court. “He hasn’t been given a single summon in the last six months. The CBI made allegations that he was not cooperating, when no summon has been issued after August 2017.”
Singhvi said the case against Karti Chidambaram was “most bizarre”.
Meanwhile, the Congress continued to accuse the Narendra Modi-led government of witch hunt and described Karti Chidambaram’s arrest as a “diversionary tactic”.
“The prime minister and his ministers are using malicious intent to deflect from the bank scam and losses to public exchequer,” Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters at a press conference. “The political persecution of P Chidambaram and his son by CBI to serve agenda of their political matters is nothing but cog in this wheel.”
Surjewala said the FIR filed in the case does not mention Karti Chidambaram as an accused. “P Chidambaram has maintained that neither he nor any of his family member or relations have ever had or have its stake, shareholding or directorship of Advantage Strategic Consulting or INC Media at any point of time,” he added.
What is the INX Media case?
How is Karti Chidambaram involved in the case?
Meanwhile, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected Congress’ allegations of vendetta politics and said the government has not interfered in the matter. “When such issues are raised, what is important is that the nature of evidence available against the offender must speak for itself and not the alibi of vendetta,” the law minister told reporters at a press conference. “The CBI will explain all the details. We do not wish to interfere. There is no interference of the government.
In May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate had filed a money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors, which include Indrani and Peter Mukerjea. His company had allegedly received Rs 10 lakh from the INX Media, which allegedly got a clearance from the Foreign Exchange Promotion Board for Rs 4 crore but actually received Rs 305 crore in foreign funding in 2007. P Chidambaram was the finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at that time.
Karti Chidambaram allegedly received the money in return for help to get out of the situation without facing any punitive action, the Enforcement Directorate had alleged.
On February 24, P Chidambaram had moved the Supreme Court seeking protection of his fundamental rights in connection with the Aircel-Maxis and INX media case. The Congress leader, who is also a senior advocate, asked the top court to order the investigating agencies to stop their “illegal” inquiries in the cases as they amounted to harassment of his family and him.