French President Emmanuel Macron will arrive here on March 9 for a four-day state visit to India, during which he will hold a summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.
A day after he was arrested in the INX Media case, Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram, was sent on Thursday to CBI custody for five days by a Delhi court. Karti was produced before special judge Sunil Rana in the afternoon — he had spent the night at the cardiac care unit of Safdarjung Hospital. His parents P Chidambaram and Nalini Chidambaram, who are both senior advocates, were present in the court room. His custody was extended until March 6 after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the CBI, told the court that there were “very shocking evidences” of what Karti had done. Judge Rana said Karti’s presence was “actually needed” to serve “some important and specific purpose” for completion of investigation. Mehta told the court that the accused was required to be confronted with documents, co-accused and “trail of proceeds of crime” as he was the “ultimate beneficiary” and “prime conspirator” in a money transaction involving huge sums.
He rejected the claim that this was a case of “political vendetta”, saying investigation was being conducted in accordance with law. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was leading Karti’s defence team of lawyers, said CBI had spent 22 hours with Karti in August last year and no fresh summon was issued to him till date. He said this showed that the CBI had nothing more to ask him. “The only way of establishing non-cooperation is to issue summons. You never tested my non-cooperation. Sudden arrest after six months. It is bizarre. I am arrested as I step out of a plane. There is not an iota of evidence against Karti. He is being arrested despite complying with court orders repeatedly,” Singhvi said.
Singhvi said senior journalist Vir Sanghvi had lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, alleging irregularities in INX Media. “Thereafter, the complaint was forwarded to Finance Ministry when Karti’s father P Chidambaram was Finance Minister. He cleared the complaint to Ministry of Corporate Affairs after which the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) took over the investigation and in 2013 presented a report indicting the INX Media… It is preposterous to say that on one hand P Chidambaram cleared prosecution of INX Media and, on the other hand, he asked the owners of INX Media to help his son’s business,” he said.
INX Media’s Indrani Mukerjea, in her CrPC Section 164 statement before a magistrate, alleged that a deal was struck between Karti and the Mukerjeas to swing FIPB approval in favour of INX Media. In May 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR invoking sections relating to criminal conspiracy and cheating against Karti, INX Media among others for alleged irregularities in FIPB approval given to INX Media for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2007. The ED too registered a case and claimed they had documents which showed Advantage Strategic Consulting, a company that CBI claimed was indirectly controlled by Karti, was paid Rs 10 lakh as consultancy fee to help INX Media get FIPB approval in 2008. Chidambaram was then finance minister.