Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today secured interim protection from arrest from a trial court in the Aircel-Maxis case filed by the CBI but will have to wait till tomorrow to know the fate of his anticipatory bail plea before the Delhi High Court in the ED’s money-laundering case related to INX Media. In a related development that came as a reprieve for Karti Chidambaram, the son of the former union minister, the Madras High Court quashed CBI’s look out circular issued against him in the INX Media case. Separately, Karti, who wanted to visit the United Kingdom, France and America for personal reasons, including witnessing the US Grand Slam tournament, was allowed by the apex court to travel abroad from July 23-31.
P Chidambaram had simultaneously moved the Delhi High Court and a trial court for seeking protection from arrest in the INX Media money laundering case and the Aircel-Maxis case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate(ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) respectively. While the Delhi High Court listed for tomorrow Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea in the money-laundering case, a trial court granted interim protection from arrest to him in the Aircel-Maxis case.
The anticipatory bail plea in the ED’s case will be heard tomorrow by Justice A K Pathak. Karti, whose role is being investigated by the ED and the CBI in several cases, including the one relating to FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving foreign funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore when his father was the finance minister, was earlier also allowed to go abroad.
In his plea filed before the Delhi High Court, P Chidambaram said although no summons were ever been served to him by the ED in this case, he was apprehending arrest in view of the summons issued to him by the CBI, which is investigating the scheduled offence. The plea, filed through advocates Pramod Kumar Dubey and Arshdeep Singh, said during investigation of the ED’s case, which has been going on for over a year, no summons has been issued to Chidambaram till date and no allegation has been levelled against him regarding evading the process of law or fleeing from the process of law or interfering with the investigation in any manner.
“There is not even a slightest whisper about his tampering with any evidence or hampering/impeding the process of investigation,” it said, while seeking relief. The plea said the senior Congress leader had already got protection from arrest in the CBI’s case related to INX Media. In the Aircel-Maxis case lodged by the CBI, Special CBI Judge O P Saini asked the CBI to file a detailed reply to P Chidambaram’s application and directed the agency not to take any coercive action against him till August 7.
The former finance minister told the court that he had apprehensions that the CBI might arrest him in the case. “Nothing is preventing them (CBI) from arresting me (Chidambaram) in the case. I am apprehending arrest in the current matter. They can arrest me as a matter of law. I am made an accused for nothing,” said senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for P Chidambaram.
CBI had on July 19 filed a supplementary charge sheet against Chidambaram and his son Karti and 16 others before the trial court which has fixed it for consideration on July 31. The CBI is probing as to how Chidambaram, who was the Union finance minister in 2006, granted a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it.
The Congress leader’s role has come under the scanner of probe agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore. It was during his tenure as the finance minister in the UPA-1 government that clearances from the FIPB were given 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, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance to the media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED had last year lodged the money-laundering case in this regard. Both Chidambaram and Karti have denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED. Chidambaram had already got protection from arrest from the high court in the CBI’s case related to INX Media.