CBI asks for Chidambaram to be sent to judicial custody

Former finance minister P Chidambaram was produced before a Delhi court on Thursday after the expiry of his 2-day CBI custody in the INX Media corruption case and the agency said that he be sent to judicial custody.

He was brought to the special court hours after he withdrew his petition challenging the non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued against him following which he was sent to the CBI custody.

Chidambaram's 15-day CBI custody, ordered by the special court in five spells, which started after his arrest on August 21 night, ends today.

He was produced before Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar, who on Tuesday sent him to CBI custody till today by taking note of the Supreme Court's order which had said that Chidambaram would be in the CBI custody till September 5.

The apex court Thursday also decided his appeal against the Delhi High Court's August 20 order in the money laundering case lodged by ED and rejected his challenge to denial of anticipatory bail.

Hours after the apex court order, another special court granted him and his son Karti anticipatory bail in the Aircel-Maxis cases.

In the INX matter, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is appearing for the CBI while senior advocate Kapil Sibal is representing Chidambaram.

During the proceedings, Mehta informed the judge about the outcome of the Supreme Court's order in the ED case and also about the withdrawal of his petitions in the CBI case.

CBI told the court that Chidambaram can be sent to judicial custody as he was a powerful public person and should not be set free.

Sibal opposed the CBI saying there was no allegation that Chidambaram tried to influence or hamper the probe.

He further said that Chidambaram was ready to go to ED custody in money laundering case related to INX Media in which the apex court Thursday dismissed his plea challenging the High Court's August 20 order.

Sibal said Chidambaram will surrender and ED will take him into custody.

"Why should I (Chidambaram) be sent to jail (Tihar)?" he said and pressed that ED should take him to its custody.

"There is nothing found against me. There is no charge sheet. They say I am powerful and influential. But they have no evidence. There is no evidence of tampering with evidence. Has a witness said anything like that?" Sibal argued.

The Solicitor General objected to Sibal's submission saying he is arguing for bail.

However, Sibal said, "The reasons given in the application for judicial custody are non-existent. What do you need me for in judicial custody."

When the Solicitor General sought clarification as to for what relief Sibal is arguing the latter said, "I (Chidambaram) am arguing for my release."

Mehta said that the apex court has accepted his arguments in the money laundering case lodged the ED and there is a strong chance of tampering with evidence and witnesses and response is awaited on the letters rogatory sent to various countries.

The law officer alleged that Chidambaram was influencing the banks in foreign countries and he was non-cooperative in the investigation and the banks may not cooperate if he influences them.

"This is a case of serious economic offence affecting the economy of the country," he said, adding that Chidambaram is influential and has pervasive control over things and may influence witnesses.

Mehta referred to a statement of a witness and said this witness can be easily influenced by Chidambaram. He refused to name the witness in open court.

The law officer said stage has not come to consider the release of Chidambaram. 

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