The Delhi High court on Thursday granted former Union minister P Chidambaram protection from arrest till July 3 in the INX Media corruption case. The court asked Chidambaram to join and cooperate in the questioning as and when called by the CBI. Justice A K Pathak also issued notice to the investigating agency on the Congress leader’s anticipatory bail plea and asked it to file reply within two weeks. The matter will be next heard on July 3. Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, opposed the anticipatory bail plea, saying the former finance minister is only being called for questioning in furtherance of the investigation.
Chidambaram, in his plea before the HC on Wednesday, had stated that he had an apprehension of arrest as the CBI had suddenly and in a completely mala fide manner, issued a notice directing him to appear before it on May 31. Chidambaram, in his application for anticipatory bail, stated that the whole exercise was part of a political vendetta against him and that the investigating agencies have been working at the behest of the Centre, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi argued, adding that the Congress leader was named neither as an accused nor as a suspect in the subject FIR.
Chidambaram said he feared that he will be arrested under similar circumstances under which his son Karti was arrested. Karti, who is out on bail in connection to the same case, was arrested for allegedly receiving funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh. Chidambaram, on Wednesday, approached a trial court for protection from arrest in Aircel-Maxis case before approaching the HC in connection with the INX Media case.
Chidambaram’s role has come under the scanner in the Rs 3,500 crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX case. It was during his tenure as finance minister in the UPA-1 regime that FIPB clearance was granted to the two ventures in which alleged irregularities have been found.
In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15 last year against alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the finance minister. The other accused in the case include the then INX media director Indrani Mukerjea and the then INX news director Peter Mukerjea.