The CBI today told the Delhi High Court that it has arrived at “some conclusion” with regard to a plea alleging that a woman, related to former Union minister P Chidambaram, had grabbed a hotel in Tamil Nadu in collusion with the officials of a public sector bank. The agency, however, sought time to file in response on the ground that the complaint on the issue was of 2007 and some clarifications had to come from Chennai. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s standing counsel Rajdeepa Behura submitted that the agency has sought the clarifications from the CBI’s unit there as the case related to that state. “The agency has arrived at some conclusion. We are only waiting for the clarifications from Chennai. Once these come to us, we will incorporate the same and file our status report in the court,” the agency’s counsel told Justice Vinod Goel. Behura, however, did not elaborate as to what “some conclusion” the CBI had arrived at. The court fixed the matter for further hearing on December 8.
The CBI’s response came on the petition filed by K Kathirvel, a doctor by profession who was running the hotel in partnership with his associates, including Padmini, sister of Chidambaram’s wife Nalini, accused of grabbing the property in collusion with Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) officials. Earlier, the court had issued notice to the CBI and had sought a status report with regard to the complaint lodged by Kathirve.l The court had asked the probe agency to inform it about the action taken so far. Kathirvel has alleged in his plea that he had filed a complaint with the CBI in September 2016 against Chidambaram, his family members and top officials of the IOB for allegedly grabbing his hotel, but the agency had not yet taken any step. The petitioner has said he had filed the complaint with the CBI director after the CBI’s Tamil Nadu unit showed reluctance to entertain it. According to his complaint, in 2007, the ‘Comfort Inn’ hotel in Tirupur, in which he was a partner, was grabbed by them with the help of the top management of the IOB.
Arguing for Kathirvel, his counsel Yatinder Chaudhary, had said that this was a clear case of abuse of power by the former Union minister’s family using banks to grab the properties. He had contended that even after clearing the dues, the bank went on with a “mock auction” to allot the hotel to Padmini. The hotel was worth more than Rs 10 crore and had a loan due of Rs 2.5 crore with the IOB which had declared the loan as a non-performing asset and announced an auction, the complaint has said. Kathirvel has said he had approached the Madras High Court and later the Debt Recovery Tribunal, besides paying Rs 64 lakh ($96,000) to the IOB to avoid auction. After receiving the amount, the bank had promised cancellation of the auction, he has claimed. He has alleged that the bank cheated him and conducted a “farce auction” and allotted the hotel to Padmini at a very “cheap” price of Rs 4.5 crore.