Restraining Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, from travelling abroad, the Supreme Court on Monday said that he must join investigations in a corruption case, “be it in Chennai or Delhi”.
Restraining Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, from travelling abroad, the Supreme Court on Monday said that he must join investigations in a corruption case, “be it in Chennai or Delhi”. A bench led by Chief Justice J S Khehar stayed a Madras High Court order of August 10 which put on hold the implementation of a Look Out Circular (LOC) issued by the Bureau of Immigration against Karti. “…you cannot, as of now, leave the country till you participate in the investigation. That’s all,” CJI Khehar said. The HC had allowed Karti to travel abroad and he was scheduled to fly out on August 16. The HC had stayed the LOC issued against Karti and four others, holding that they were prima facie “unwarranted”.
While posting the matter for further hearing on Friday, the apex court said that Karti must appear before the CBI officer and “cooperate and participate” in a corruption case involving kickbacks paid by INX Media for obtaining the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance. “Our business is only one. You must go for the investigation. How will it be if people of this country do not respond to investigations against them?” the Chief Justice said.
In response to his submission that he had no intention of going abroad, Khehar observed: “In the past, we have made the mistake of letting people go abroad, but they never returned. We are not willing to make that mistake again… You (Karti) first show us your bonafide by going to the investigating officer”.
The CBI had registered the FIR against Karti on May 15 and had issued notice on June 15 asking Karti to appear before the investigating officer on June 29. The investigative agency had then on June 16 issued the LOC. The SC accepted the stand of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the CBI, that the intent and language of the LOC was not to detain or arrest Karti, but was to ensure that he did not leave the country when the investigation into a case involving serious offences was going on. The agency also claimed that some incriminating documents were discovered during the raids and that there was a likelihood of Karti not coming back and tampering evidence if he was allowed to travel abroad.
When senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Karti, said that his client was not “a fugitive” and his family was well settled here in India, the CJI said: “We are not on the issue whether he is guilty or not. We are on a very small issue. Have you participated and co-operated with the investigating officer? The answer is ‘no’”.