The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would take up former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s plea challenging his remand to the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation on September 5 in the INX Media case, Bar and Bench reported. An hour later, the CBI court in Delhi also extended the agency’s custody in accordance with the top court order, PTI reported.
The Congress leader will remain in CBI custody till then and will not appeal to the trial court for bail. “Let the interim order continue for two more days,” Hindustan Times quoted Justice R Banumathi as saying.
During the proceedings, Chidambaram’s lawyer Kapil Sibal said the 15-day period of remand would end of September 5. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta replied that the CBI did not want Chidambaram’s custody anymore.
The extension came after Mehta admitted that the agency made a mistake on Monday and said Chidambaram’s police custody ended on Tuesday, instead of September 5. “We have made a wrong statement yesterday,” the agency admitted, according to NDTV.
On Monday, a special CBI court had extended Chidambaram’s custody till Tuesday after Mehta sought a day’s custody. Mehta had said the Congress leader’s bail plea should be rejected as he can “influence the witness”. The former finance minister has been in the CBI’s custody since August 21.
On Monday, the Supreme Court had asked Chidambaram to approach the trial court for interim bail. The top court had said that a status quo should be maintained till Thursday if the trial court rejected his plea.
Chidambaram’s counsel Kapil Sibal had told the top court that the former minister should not be sent to Tihar jail as he is 74 years old, and should be protected. Sibal had urged the court to place Chidambaram under house arrest.
In CBI custody, Chidambaram has been put in a suite of the agency’s headquarters in Delhi, reported NDTV. The CBI said it was the special CBI court that has to decide where the Congress leader should be held.
Both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are conducting inquiries in the case. On August 20, the Delhi High Court had rejected Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea in both cases, after which he moved the Supreme Court. On Thursday, the top court reserved its order in the Enforcement Directorate case, posting it for September 5.
The CBI has said there were irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s foreign direct investment clearance to INX Media in 2007, when P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister. The company was then owned by businesspersons Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, who are in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena Bora.
According to the CBI, the company of P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram allegedly received Rs 10 lakh from INX Media for helping it escape punitive action for taking Rs 305 crore in foreign funding in 2007 despite having clearance for only Rs 4 crore.
In May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering caseagainst Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and the Mukerjeas. Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea have reportedly told the investigating agencies that when they met P Chidambaram in 2006 in his North Block office, he asked them to meet Karti Chidambaram and help him with his business.
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