A special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Thursday remanded former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram to the agency’s custody till August 26. The Congress leader was arrested late Wednesday night in New Delhi for his suspected role in two cases of alleged corruption and money laundering in the INX Media case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI, had sought the former minister’s custody for five days for questioning.
Before his arrest, Chidambaram claimed at a press conference that neither the CBI nor the Enforcement Directorate had filed any chargesheet in a competent court in connection with the case. He claimed he had not been accused of any offence.
Here are the top updates of the day:
9.33 pm: “The Congress has united to protect corruption,” Javadekar adds. “It is synonymous with corruption. When in power, it looted the country left right and centre.”
9.27 pm: BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar rejects the Congress’ claim that Chidambaram’s arrest is “political vendetta”, PTI reports. “The CBI court’s decision to send him in remand makes it clear that it is a corruption case,” he says. “There is a prime facie case and that is why the court has remanded him to the probe agency’s custody. Therefore, the Congress accusation that it is political vendetta is wrong. In fact, justice is happening.”
7.25 pm: Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi lashes out at the government, ANI reports. “Rajiv Gandhi came to power in 1984 but he never used powers to create an atmosphere of fear or to destroy the freedom and liberty of the people,” she says. “He never used his power to put the principles of democracy in danger.”
6.35 pm: The Special CBI court grants the agency custody of Chidambaram till August 26, Bar and Bench reports.
6 pm: The Supreme Court will hear Chidambaram’s plea against the Enforcement Directorate on August 27, ANI reports. His petition against the CBI will be heard on Friday.
5.25 pm: Lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi outside CBI court, reports ANI.
5.04 pm: Court to pronounce remand order after half an hour, reports Bar and Bench.
5.03 pm: Court allows Chidambaram to speak. “On June 6, 2018, please ask for the transcript… there is no question which has not been answered,” says the Congress leader. “The allegation of 5 Million whatever were never put to me. Only asked me if I have a foreign bank account or my son who furnished the details.”
5.01 pm: Kapil Sibal argues that he does not want the questions to be made public, but only wants to ascertain the genuineness.
4.59 pm: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta refuses to reveal the chronology of the questions to be asked, reports Bar and Bench. He says all questions were recorded. I cannot be denied my right to interrogate. It is my duty to the nation,” he adds.
4.45 pm: P Chidambaram says he wants to speak, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposes. Singhvi quotes Delhi High Court judgement allowing accused to make a representation on his behalf, reports Bar and Bench.
4.40 pm: Singhvi asks why police custody is required, says there has been no new developments in the INX Media case, according to Bar and Bench.
4.35 pm: Singhvi points out the prosecution had not made any allegations of tampering with evidence or that Chidambaram was a flight risk, reports Live Law.
4.33 pm: Singhvi says custodial interrogation is not confession and reads out a Supreme Court judgement on such an interrogation. The lawyer asks how the prosecution can ask for police custody on the grounds of evasion. “Non-cooperation is not appearing for interrogation and not not answering the questions in the manner that the prosecution wants,” the lawyer says, according to Bar and Bench.
4.29 pm: “I argue triple test for the grant of bail,” says Singhvi, according to Live Law. “SG’s [Solicitor General] entire case is based on the singular allegation of evasion.”
4.27 pm: “Is an investigative agency so thirsty for arrest when after June 2018, you haven’t called him even once,” says Singhvi. The lawyer says that approver is a status, not evidence, referring to Indrani Mukerjea, reports Live Law.
4.25 pm: Kapil Sibal concludes his arguments, saying that the case has nothing to do with evidence but something else. Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi starts by highlighting that the entire case is based on Indrani Mukerjea’s [one of the directors of INX Media] evidence and a case diary, Live Law reports.
4.21 pm: “I have serious objection with the manner in which the accused [Chidambaram] was dealt with,” Sibal says, according to Bar and Bench. “What is written in the case diary is not evidence in the case but only to aid in such inquiry or trial.”
4.20 pm: “All co-accused are on bail. They [prosecution] could have written a letter to me asking for the documents needed for investigation...why did they not do that?” asks Sibal in court, according to Bar and Bench. The lawyer says grant of police remand is an exception and not a rule. Sibal asks the prosecution to present a strong case.
4.16 pm: Sibal says CBI did not interrogate Chidamabaram on Wednesday night and said they would at 8.30 am on Thursday but they did not begin interrogation until noon, reports Live Law. “They asked 12 questions, six of which had been answered earlier,” the lawyer says.
4.11 pm: A group of Supreme Court lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court Bar Association to release a statement, protesting against the refusal of the top court to allow urgent hearing of Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea, Live Law reports.
4.09 pm: Sibal says Chidambaram was questioned only once in the case when the investigating agency could have called him again. “When they took him into custody last night, he [Chidambaram] said he had not slept in 24 hours, and requested them to take him next morning,” the lawyer says, according to Live Law. “CBI said no, we want to interrogate you.”
4.06 pm: “This is a case of documentary evidence,” Sibal says, according to Bar and Bench. “The secretaries recommended the case to the Finance Minister and he approved. The FIR was filed after 10 years.”
4.05 pm: Sibal says draft chargesheet in the case is ready so the inquiry is complete, Bar and Bench reports. Foreign Investment Promotion Board is given by six secretaries of the government but none of them were arrested, the lawyer says.
4.01 pm: Mehta concludes arguments. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, starts by pointing out all the other accused in the case, including the Congress leader’s son Karti Chidambaram, were given bail in the case, reports Live Law.
3.58 pm: “Serious and informed role of the accused is made out from the case diary and the money trail needs to be probed into,” Mehta says, according to Live Law. The advocate reads a Supreme Court judgement on the benefits of custodial interrogation.
3.55 pm: Solicitor general argues custodial interrogation is required to confront the former Union finance minister with relevant documents and other accused in the case to proceed with the investigation, reports Bar and Bench. Mehta says Chidambaram took advantage of the protective cover by Delhi High Court.
3.51 pm: Mehta says non-bailable warrant issued by the CBI court led to Chidambaram’s arrest, according to Live Law. The solicitor general says being silent is a constitutional right but the Congress leader was “evasive to the questions put to him, questions only he can answer”.
3.40 pm: Proceedings begin after CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar arrives. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the investigating agency, seeks five days custody of Chidambaram and apprises court of the INX Media case, reports Bar and Bench.
3.21 pm: Chidambaram formally produced before the Special CBI court, Live Law reports.
3.18 pm: Congress leader P Chidambaram arrives at CBI court for the hearing on his bail plea, Live Law reports. He was taken inside through the back gate of the Rouse Avenue complex in New Delhi.
3.13 pm: The magistrate may grant custody for up to 14 days, reports Live Law.
3.11 pm: CBI will seek extended custody of the Congress leader for questioning in the INX Media case, Live Law reports.
3.08 pm: Lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi arrive at CBI court for Chidambaram’s bail hearing, reports ANI. The Congress leader’s son Karti Chidambaram and wife Nalini Chidambaram also reach the court.
2.28 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee backs P Chidambaram. “Process [of arrest] is incorrect,” NDTV quotes her as saying. “Way it was handled is sad.”
2.24 pm: INX Media case investigating officer Rakesh Ahuja is back with Delhi Police, report ANI and News18. According to the Enforcement Directorate, his term was over three weeks ago.
2.15 pm: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin criticises the CBI for arresting Chidambaram. “I too saw how CBI jumped the wall and arrested him, it is a matter of shame for India, it is political vendetta,” ANI quotes the Opposition leader as saying. “Chidambaram had asked for anticipatory bail but he was arrested, it is condemnable.”
1.32 pm: Union minister and BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says the Congress is trying to “convert corruption into a revolution” by expressing solidarity with P Chidambaram. “The Congress is working with a negative mindset,” he tells PTI. “This is for the first time that corruption is becoming a revolution. Till now, revolution was against corruption, now revolution is being carried out in favour of corruption.”
He says law enforcement agencies and courts will do their work.
11.56 am: G Kishan Reddy, Union minister of state for home, tells ANI, “Law will take its own course, the court takes decisions as per law, and the party and the government has no role in it. It’s the court, not government that decides where to put the people who indulge in corruption.”
11.17 am: “I have never met Peter Mukerjea,” PTI quotes Karti as saying. “Have never met Indrani Mukerjea, only time I met her was during the CBI interrogation in Byculla jail. Never met anyone in FIPB, don’t know the process of FIPB.”
11.15 am: Karti Chidambaram claims he never met Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, who were directors of INX Media, reports PTI. In May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and the Mukerjeas. The agency accused Karti Chidambaram’s company of receiving a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to help INX Media escape punitive action for taking Rs 305 crore in foreign funding in 2007 despite having clearance from the Foreign Exchange Promotion Board for only Rs 4 crore. P Chidambaram was finance minister at the time.
11.12 am: Karti Chidambaram asks why the CBI was in a hurry to arrest his father last night. “Was he barricading himself with guns and bombs?” The Indian Express quotes him as saying. “This is nothing but theatrics for television.”
11.10 am: P Chidambaram’s son and Congress MP Karti Chidambaram has said he will protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, ANI reports.
“This is not merely targeting of my father but the targeting of Congress party. I will go to Jantar Mantar to protest,” he says. “The protest in Jantar Mantar is about Article 370. Our whole party, alliance parties, the leader of DMK raised this issue [f arrest] as well, Mr MK Stalin condemned it yesterday.”
11.07 am: The Congress spokesperson says that the case against the former minister lies on the basis of the statements of an approver who is in prison on charges of murdering her daughter. He is referring to Indrani Mukerjea, who was one of the directors of INX Media.
“Except for the blatant attempt to humiliate Chidambaram, there was no hurry to arrest him by sending CBI officials at his residence at night,” The Indian Express quotes Surjewala as saying. “He has always cooperated with the agencies and has the highest regard of the Constitution.”
11.05 am: “Those who gave the FIPB clearance have not been arrested,” Surjewala adds. “Not a single official has been arrested. They are roaming scot-free. The Narendra Modi government is using CBI and ED as revenge-seeking departments. They are using this case to divert attention from other issues.”
11.03 am: Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor is one of the many party leaders to have expressed their support for Chidambaram. “It is a tribute to your strength of character that you are standing up to persecution and character assassination with courage and confidence,” he tweeted on Wednesday night. “I believe justice will prevail in the end. Till then we will have to allow some malicious minds their schadenfreude.”
11 am: The Congress claims P Chidambaram’s arrest is nothing short of personal and political vendetta of the Narendra Modi government, Hindustan Times reports. “Their facts don’t support claims,” says party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. “Over the last two days India witnessed the broad daylight murder of democracy as also the rule of law.”
10.45 am: Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram was arrested late Wednesday night in New Delhi for his suspected role in two cases of alleged corruption and money laundering in the INX Media case. He will be produced in a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in the Capital on Thursday. The investigating agency, which started interrogating him at 10 am, will seek his remand.
Before his arrest, Chidambaram had claimed at a press conference that neither the CBI nor the Enforcement Directorate had filed any chargesheet in a competent court in connection with the case. He claimed he had not been accused of any offence.
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