A court in Delhi on Thursday gave the Enforcement Directorate former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram custody till October 24 in connection with the INX Media case “to facilitate proper investigation in the case to reach a logical end”, PTI reported. The agency, which arrested Chidambaram on Wednesday, had sought 14-day custodial interrogation.
Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar also extended the Congress leader’s judicial custody by a week in the case lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The two investigating agencies are conducting separate inquiries in the money-laundering case.
The judge added: “Although I am of the view that ED could have utilised the time when accused was in judicial custody in the CBI matter to examine him with regard to the material available with ED but for this reason only, I am not inclined to deny an opportunity to ED to interrogate the accused in the present case to facilitate proper investigation in the case to reach a logical end.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the investigating agency, told the court that the agency had examined 12 more witnesses in the case and collected more material.
Special Public Prosecutor NK Matta, who also appeared for directorate, added that the investigation conducted so far would be different with more substantive material.
Defence counsel Kapil Sibal opposed their arguments, and said that when Chidambaram had surrendered on September 5, the investigating agency did not prefer to arrest him for the purpose of interrogation.
“The custody period [60-days since arrest] of the accused in CBI case is coming to an end, that is why to prolong his custody, the ED is now moving this application after his arrest on October 16,” Sibal said.
The court accepted Chidambaram’s request to have home-cooked food, a separate cell, a western toilet, spectacles, medicines and permission to let his family members and lawyers visit him for half-an-hour daily. It also directed the Enforcement Directorate to get him medically examined every 48 hours.
“Interrogation is the prerogative of the investigating officer,” the court said in its order. “It is for him to decide when a person is to arrested and when custodial interrogation will be required so that it proves fruitful. Courts give due regard to the discretion of IO about the manner in which he will conduct the investigation.”
Hours after the court proceedings, Chidambaram was taken out of Tihar Jail, more than a month after he was arrested, NDTV reported.
The case against Chidambaram
The Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case in May 2017 against P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, INX Media, and the company’s owners Indrani and Peter Mukerjea.
The CBI has alleged that there were irregularities in the foreign direct investment clearance granted to INX Media by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board in 2007. Chidambaram was the finance minister at the time. The agency has submitted purported emails between INX Media and a company belonging to Karti Chidambaram, claiming that these emails will “prove offences committed”.
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