The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Congress MP Karti Chidambaram to travel abroad after depositing Rs 2 crore, reported Live Law. The Enforcement Directorate is investigating the Congress MP in the Rs 305-crore INX Media money laundering and the Aircel-Maxis case.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy also asked Chidambaram to furnish his travel itinerary. The permission has only been allowed for six months.
The Enforcement Directorate opposed the amount, saying that another court had asked Chidambaram to deposit Rs 10 crore and that the same must be continued, reported NDTV. Kapil Sibal, representing the Congress MP, asked why should such a condition be imposed on an MP. “It has never happened that such a condition has been imposed in the history,” Sibal argued. “He is not going to run away and such conditions should not be imposed. This is entirely unfair.”
Justice Bhushan proposed reducing the amount to Rs 5 crore. However, Sibal further argued against the proposal. He also cited the Maneka Gandhi case, in which the Supreme Court had observed that right to travel abroad is a fundamental right.
Justice Bhushan pointed out that the amount was only because it is an Enforcement Directorate case. “Why should the petitioner be imposed with a condition every time he seeks permission to travel abroad,” he contended. “This is the seventh time. Earlier there has been [an] order where there was no condition imposed.”
INX Media case
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. 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 Enforcement Directorate, which was also investigating the case had filed a money laundering case in May 2017 against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its former owners Peter Mukerjea and Indrani 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.
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.