The Supreme Court on Monday said it will peruse confidential documents submitted in a sealed cover by the CBI before allowing Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram, to travel abroad to attend a lecture in London on November 10. Karti has a lookout circular (LOC) issued against him by the Centre to prevent him from travelling abroad. The case against Karti pertains to an FIR lodged by the CBI on May 15, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media, which was then run by Peter Mukherjea and his wife Indrani Mukherjea, for receiving overseas funds to the tune of `305 crore in 2007. While INX Media had approval for foreign investment worth Rs 4.62 crore, it had managed to raise around Rs 305 crore in 2007 through “influence in the finance ministry.” At that time P Chidambaram was the finance minister, according to the CBI. A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it will examine the documents collected while probing and questioning Karti in connection with the INX bribery case in the open court to allay any apprehension of Karti and others. It asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place the documents before it on November 9, the day Karti is supposed to travel. The “incriminating material” was allegedly recovered by the CBI during questioning of Karti and has been furnished to the apex court in a sealed cover.
Karti has sought permission to travel abroad between November 5 and November 15 and December 1 to December 7. The apex court agreed to examine the documents after Mehta, appearing for CBI, said it will be “travesty of justice” if the court does not see the papers and form an opinion. “Does the investigating agency have to plead to the court to look into the evidence before forming any opinion? My insistence is that please have a look before the court forms any opinion,” he argued.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Karti, told the court that he has to visit Cambridge in connection with a lecture on ‘The Rule of Law and Democratic Development in Pakistan’ organised by human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir on November 10.
Besides, he wants to make another trip to Cambridge in December in connection with the admission of his daughter in Cambridge next year. Mehta opposed the request to allow Karti to travel abroad pending investigation, saying it was beyond his understanding as to how important the lecture on ‘Rule of Law in Pakistan’ would be.