A Delhi court on Thursday sent former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram to the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation till March 6, ANI reported. He is accused of violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
In the Patiala House Court on Thursday, the CBI said there was “very shocking” evidence against Chidambaram’s actions when he went abroad, PTI reported. While extending his CBI custody, the court allowed his lawyer to meet him for two hours every day – an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. The court also said medicines on prescription were allowed but no home-cooked food.
He told reporters outside the court on Thursday, “I will be vindicated eventually.”
Karti Chidambaram was arrested at the Chennai airport on Wednesday, in connection with the INX Media case, after he returned from the United Kingdom. The agency arrested him for not cooperating with its investigators. After being questioned at the airport lounge, he was taken to Delhi. His one-day CBI custody ended on Thursday.
Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta is appearing as the special public prosecutor for the CBI. The agency has alleged that INX Media paid Rs 10 lakh in bribes to Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Limited, which is indirectly owned by Karti Chidambaram, for his help in securing Foreign Direct Investment.
The CBI told the Patiala House Court that Karti Chidambaram had remained evasive during interrogation. “Custodial interrogation is completely different,” the agency said. “There is clear evidence of links between Karti Chidambaram and various companies. We have emails and invoices indicating money was given to Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Limited in the time period when INX media received favours.”
The investigating agency said the whole purpose of Karti Chidambaram’s custody on Wednesday was “defeated” after the doctors shifted him to a cardiac care unit. “It was surprising because he had not complained of anything. He was perfectly fine in the morning but gave evasive answers when CBI questioned him.”
‘CBI did not issue summons for six months’
Karti Chidambaram’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that there were no grounds for custodial interrogation. “There is no allegation of non-cooperation for six months yet still the sudden arrest,” Singhvi said, according to NDTV. “Kumbhakaran [a character from the Ramayana] also slept for six months.”
He added that the CBI had submitted evidence, which was a deliberate attempt “to prejudice the court with half-baked facts”. Karti Chidambaram’s answer does not suit the CBI, Singhvi claimed, so the agency is accusing him of being “non-cooperative”.
“[The] CBI is bending rules,” he told the court, according to News18. “Let them show what all questions they have asked my client. There was no ground of arrest furnished to him either.”
Meanwhile, the Patiala House Court reserved its order on the bail plea of Karti Chidambaram’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman, who was arrested in New Delhi on February 16 in connection with the case. The court said Bhaskararaman will remain in jail till March 7.
The INX Media case
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 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.