Delhi, Aug 22, 2019 : Former Union minister P Chidambaram will be produced in a special court of CBI on Thursday, a day after he was arrested in connection with the INX Media case by the probe agency in a dramatic turn of events, Hindustan Times reported.
The senior Congress leader was taken to CBI headquarters after the agency’s officials scaled the boundary walls of his residence in Jor Bagh on Wednesday night to arrest him.
Chidambaram spent Wednesday night at the CBI headquarters in Delhi’s Lodhi Road area. The Congress leader, who served as Union home minister between November 2008 to July 2012 in the UPA government, was one of the key guests at the inauguration event of CBI headquarters on June 30, 2011, held in the presence of then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
The probe agency, which had issued a lookout notice against Chidambaram, arrested him after he made a dramatic appearance at the Congress headquarters in Delhi and addressed a press conference in which he rejected the charges against him and his son in the INX Media case and said “lies” were being spread by “pathological liars.”
CBI could ask the special court for at least 7-10 days custody of Chidambaram, agency officials said.
Legal experts said that now that Chidambaram has been arrested, his petition in the Supreme Court is infructuous and he will have to apply for bail in the special court.
Chidambaram had made a public request to the CBI asking them to wait till the Supreme Court hears his petition on Friday had gone unheeded.
“Between now and Friday, I shall walk with a clear conscience and my head held high. I shall respect the law even if it is applied with an unequal hand by the investigating agencies. In the name of freedom, I can only hope and pray that the investigating agencies will also respect the law. In the present circumstances, respect for the law can mean only one thing – await the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on Friday,” the former minister had said.
In his seven-minute statement, Chidambaram also laid out his side of the story to counter what the Congress has described as an effort at “character assassination”.
The former minister insisted that neither he, nor anyone from his family, had been named as an accused in the INX Media case by either CBI or ED.
“For the last 24 hours, much has happened that has caused concern to some and confusion to many. In the INX media case, I have not been accused of any offence, nor has anyone else, including any member of my family, been accused of any offence. In fact, there is no chargesheet filed either by the CBI or the ED before any competent court. Further, the FIR recorded by CBI doesn’t include any wrongdoing by me, yet there is an impression that a great offence has been committed and my son and I have committed those offences,” he said in his statement.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Chidambaram asserted in his statement that he had prefaced with the importance of liberty, “the foundation of democracy”.
Chidambaram, who had not been seen in public after the Delhi High Court rejected his request for anticipatory bail, said he had been working with a team of lawyers through the night on the petition moved before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The special leave petition was filed in the court earlier on Wednesday but was not heard by the court through the day despite “impassioned” appeals by his lawyers, he said. By evening, court officials told his legal team that the Supreme Court would take up the case only on Friday.
“I bow down to the orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court,” he said.
The INX Media case relates to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to the media group for receiving foreign investment to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister.
The CBI registered a first information report on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the manner the clearance had been awarded and the ED filed a money laundering case a year later.
INX Media co-founders Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani Mukerjea have been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with Karti Chidambaram to get foreign investment approvals and evade punitive measures for not having the necessary approvals from FIPB.
In March 2018, Indrani Mukerjea told CBI in a statement that a deal of $1 million was struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure approval from the FIPB in favour of INX Media. Last month, a Delhi court allowed Indrani Mukerjea, who is a prime suspect in the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, to turn approver in the INX Media case.
Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018, by CBI for allegedly accepting money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media. He was later granted bail. His chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman was also arrested and released on bail.
On January 25, the Delhi High Court reserved order on Chidambaram’s bail plea in the case being probed by ED and CBI.
Chidambaram and Karti have consistently denied all allegations and said they were motivated by “political vendetta” by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.