Chidambaram sent to CBI custody till Aug 26

Chidambaram sent to CBI custody till Aug 26

INX Media case

Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram. PTI File photo

A day after his arrest, former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday suffered a further setback as a Delhi court remanded him to CBI custody till August 26 terming the charges of payment made against him in the 2007 INX Media case as “serious”, requiring detailed and in-depth investigation.

“The allegations of payment made to the accused in the year 2007-08 and 2008-09 are specific and categorical. The trail of money, if so paid, is to be ascertained. No doubt, it is a case to a large extent based on documentary evidence but those documents need to be traced and their value and worth for the purpose of investigation in this case is to be ascertained,” Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar said.

INX Media case Live Updates | P Chidambaram is presented in Court, hearing starts

The CBI, which made arrest of 73-year-old Rajya Sabha MP from his home here on August 21 after his dramatic appearance in a press conference, was led by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

He sought five-day custodial remand of Chidmabaram on the ground that he had so far remained evasive and did not cooperate in the investigation in the case. Mehta said, the CBI arrested him on after issuance of a non-bailable warrant on rejection of anticipatory bail plea by the Delhi High Court.

“We are dealing with intelligent people. We would be failing in our duty to the nation, if we do not reach to the root of the matter,” he said.

Chidambaram, represented by senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, opposed the plea, saying police custody remand was an exception and not a rule. His counsel contended he had already given answers to all the queries put by the CBI. Singhvi said Indrani Mukerjea, who turned approver, cannot be taken as evidence against him.

Sibal pointed out all other accused in the case were already on bail. The counsel also said the decision to grant FIPB clearance to the media group, for receipt of 305 crore, was simply endorsed by him as the Minister in 2007. It was a collective decision involving six other secretaries, why has so far none of them questioned, the counsel asked.

Chidambaram, who himself sought to argue the matter, denied the charge that it was a case of money laundering. He also pointed out, during his previous interrogation, he was asked about foreign bank accounts, which he had none, while his son Karti, also an accused, had only one, which was disclosed to the CBI.

On his production in Rouse Avenue Court here, Chidambaram, dressed up in white shirt and veshti, maintained his usual calm and exchanged pleasantries with the people.

After more than hour of arguments, the court passed its order saying the enormity of money allegedly involved in this case and the persons who are accused necessitated an in depth investigation.

It rejected a contention that Chidambaram was not called for questioning after June 6, 2018, saying that cannot be a ground to deny the investigating agency an opportunity to conduct an effective investigation now.

“The investigation needs to be brought to a logical end and for that purpose, the custodial interrogation sometime found useful and fruitful,” the court said.

The Special judge said the apprehension of the accused of any coercive action can be addressed by the court to safeguard his right as a citizen of the country.

“The police custody remand of the accused Chidambaram is justified and accordingly, he is remanded to police custody till August 26,” the court said in its detailed order.

The court directed that he would medically examined every 48 hours. His family members and lawyers can meet him for half an hour daily.

It also asked the CBI to ensure “the personal dignity of the accused is not violated in any manner”.