Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, on Thursday moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of summons and all the proceedings initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the INX Media money laundering case. The development followed an order from the Supreme Court earlier in the day allowing Karti to withdraw his petition pending before it and permitting him to move the HC on Thursday itself. The bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, also requested the acting Chief Justice of the HC to allocate Karti’s case to an appropriate bench so that it can be taken up for hearing on Friday. The matter was, later in the day, mentioned in chamber before Justice S Ravindra Bhat, who has listed it for hearing on Friday. The top court had, on March 6, refused to grant any interim protection from arrest to the son of the former Union finance minister. Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, opposed such an order by the SC, saying it could send a wrong signal to all those who face money laundering cases. He said that it would be unfair for the Supreme Court to direct the HC to do something and would be assumed that the HC does not know its responsibility. Mehta also argued that neither was there any malafide intention behind the summons nor was there any political vendetta involved as alleged by Karti. Karti’s counsel Kapil Sibal objected to the Mehta’s submission, saying the latter cannot dictate what the Supreme Court can and cannot do. “The law officers for years have a tendency to dictate the SC about what orders to be passed.
This is a constitutional court and no one should dictate,” the senior lawyer said. Reacting to Sibal’s comment, the bench took a strong exception to the Sibal’s remark about the SC being dictated by law officers. Later, Sibal apologised for his comment. Sibal further argued that his client cannot be arrested based on an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), an internal document that was not shown to him. He also said that Karti was arrested without any FIR or a complaint. While stating that an investigation is going on on the basis of the ‘serious’ money trail, the ASG said that even in the absence of a predicated offence, an arrest can be made based on the material available in the ECIR. The ECIR is just a starting point, and thereafter, a complaint ultimately goes before the competent forum, he said, adding the ED can also summon, seize and attachment assets. Karti was arrested on February 28 at the Chennai airport on his return from the UK. Just hours after his arrest, he was sent to custody by a special court. His custody, initially extended by five days on March 1, was again extended by three days to March 9 so that the CBI could question him over the matter. Karti is being questioned in connection with a case involving alleged kickbacks paid by media house INX Media for obtaining clearance from the FIPB for receiving overseas funds, according to the CBI. At that time P Chidambaram was the finance minister.