The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram to withdraw Rs 20 crore that he had deposited with the court registry as a condition for allowing him to travel abroad, PTI reported. The court had in January 2019 and May 2019 granted Chidambaram permission to travel to foreign countries after depositing Rs 10 crore each time.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court on Friday that the Enforcement Directorate had no objection now to Chidambaram withdrawing his money, since he had returned. The bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant accepted the submission.
Chidambaram is facing investigations by the Enforcement Directorate in the INX Media case and the Aircel-Maxis case. Last year, the Enforcement Directorate opposed Chidambaram’s plea to travel abroad.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court allowed the Congress leader to leave India on the condition that he deposit Rs 20 crore. The court also made Chidambaram sign an undertaking that he would return to India and cooperate with the investigation, and warned that if he did not do so it would “come down heavily” on him.
INX Media case
The Central Bureau of Investigation has alleged that there were irregularities in the foreign direct investment clearance granted to INX Media by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board in 2007. P Chidambaram, Karti Chidambaram’s father, 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”.
The INX Media case is also being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, which filed a money laundering case in May 2017 against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media, and Indrani and Peter Mukerjea. The former owners of INX Media reportedly told the investigating agencies that P Chidambaram had asked them to meet his son and help him with his business. Chidambaram was in jail from September to December, following which he was released on bail.
The Aircel-Maxis case pertains to clearances that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board granted to the firm Global Communication Holding Services Ltd for investment in telecom company Aircel in 2006. P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister at the time and Karti Chidambaram allegedly facilitated the payment of bribes in the Aircel-Maxis transaction.
The Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating a money laundering angle, is inquiring into why P Chidambaram approved the investment when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs can give the green signal for such deals.