Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday joined several of his party leaders in condemning the investigative agencies’ action against former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram in connection with the INX Media case.
The Enforcement Directorate earlier in the day issued a lookout notice for Chidambaram after a Supreme Court bench refused to pass an interim order on the Congress leader’s petition against the Delhi High Court’s rejection of his anticipatory bail plea.
“[PM Narendra] Modi’s government is using the ED, CBI and sections of a spineless media to character assassinate Mr Chidambaram,” Gandhi tweeted. He added that he strongly condemns the “disgraceful misuse of power”.
His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra alleged Chidambaram was being “shamefully hunted down”. “An extremely qualified and respected member of the Rajya Sabha P Chidambaram ji has served our nation with loyalty for decades including as Finance Minister and Home Minister,” Vadra said in a tweet. “He unhesitatingly speaks truth to power and exposes the failures of this government.”
“But the truth is inconvenient to cowards so he is being shamefully hunted down,” the Congress general secretary said in another tweet. “We stand by him and will continue to fight for the truth no matter what the consequences are.”
Congress in a tweet claimed the action by the probe agencies reiterate the government’s “own cowardly nature”, adding that the party supports Chidambaram.
Congress party spokesperson Anand Sharma accused the government of targeting opposition leaders and termed the action of probe agencies against Chidambaram as “political vendetta”.
The case relates to a First Information Report registered by the CBI in May 2017 against alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance provided to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the finance minister in the Congress-led UPA government. His son Karti Chidambaram is also an accused in the INX Media case.
The Supreme Court bench told Chidambaram’s lawyers to place the matter in front of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for urgent listing on Wednesday but it was not listed. Gogoi and Justice SA Bobde, the second senior-most judge, were both part of a Constitution Bench hearing the Ayodhya cross appeals.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Dayan Krishna and Vivek Tankha will argue for Chidambaram, while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will represent the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate. The case is being investigated by both the agencies.
In a 24-page order on Tuesday, a single judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Sunil Gaur, called Chidambaram the “kingpin” or the “key conspirator in the case”. The order said the INX Media case was a “classic case of money laundering”. Gaur had added that it was “preposterous to say the prosecution of Chidambaram is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta”.
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