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SC gives Chidambaram interim protection in INX case

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The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest, till August 26, to former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

“We are inclined to continue his interim protection in the Enforcement Directorate. He had interim protection from arrest before as well,” a bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi said.

The court also observed that his son Karti Chidambaram, who is co-accused in the case and others were out on bail.

However, the senior Chidambaram will remain in CBI custody till August 26 as the top court did not interfere in that matter.

However, Chidambaram also challenged the trial court order awarding four-day CBI custody during the hearing of the anticipatory bail plea moved by him in two cases connected to INX media.

Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED case will be listed on Monday before the Supreme Court bench to examine the legality of handing his custody to the agencies concerned.

During the arguments, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the agencies have recovered digital evidence establishing e-mail exchanges in connection with money laundering and stashing away of illegitimate money.

“Prime facie it is established that shell companies were created abroad by the people having close association with Chidambaram…these persons also executed a will in the name of the grand-daughter of Chidambaram. We need to investigate and confront him with the piece of information,” he said.

Mehta also pointed to the high probability of the will having been destroyed.

Pressing for custodial interrogation in the money laundering case, he also told the court that investigations have revealed that 10 immovable and 17 bank accounts in foreign countries have direct links with Chidambaram. He also said that Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval was given under the signature of Chidambaram.

Arguing in favour of custodial interrogation of Chidambaram, Mehta submitted that there are certain individuals who will “never divulge the truth if they are under the protective umbrella of anticipatory bail”.

He added that the gravity of the offence has been acknowledged by the Delhi High Court.

At the end of the hearing, Mehta attempted to hand over a sealed envelope, which he claimed, contains crucial evidence to establish Chidambaram’s culpability in the case.

The court, however, refused to accept it and listed both matters for hearing on Monday.

The Delhi High Court had, on August 20, dismissed the former Finance Minister’s anticipatory bail pleas in both the CBI and the ED cases pertaining to the INX Media money laundering matter.

Chidambaram’s counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that former minister was granted interim protection by the High Court on July 25, 2018 and the same had been extended subsequently and continued upto August 20. he also told the court that his client was has all along cooperated with the authority in the investigation.

Countering his argument, Mehta raised strong objection for granting any interim protection to the former minister and submitted that the ED has collected innumerable documents and evidence to show that the money has been transferred from one company to another shell company.

He also claimed that Chidambaram has various properties and various other countries in the name of shell companies and that bank accounts in the banks abroad in the name of shell companies and therefore, his custodial interrogation is necessary for unravelling the truth.

Defending the former minister, Sibal raised the issue of his fundamental right to liberty. He said that the High Court gave the order, after reserving it for seven months, on August 20 and said that he can move an application asking for time, which was also rejected later.

Chidambaram moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking urgent hearing on his plea challenging the Delhi High Court order, which was not accepted by the apex court.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who also appeared for Chidambram, submitted that his client has been denied the opportunity of being heard as against the order refusing anticipatory bail.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI later on Wednesday night.

The ED and the CBI are probing how Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram managed to get FIPB clearance in 2007 when his father was the Finance Minister. Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the 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 later.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Chidambaram sent to 4 days CBI custody in INX media case

A special CBI court here on Thursday granted the probe agency four days of custody of former Union Minister P. Chidambaram for questioning in the INX Media case.

Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar announced the order after reserving it for some time following the custodial hearing.

The court also said that Chidambaram’s family members and his counsel would be at liberty to meet him at a time feasible to both sides.

Appearing for the CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought custody of the senior Congress leader as he was brought to the Rouse Avenue court under heavy security from the CBI headquarters where he had taken after his arrest on Wednesday night.

The prosecution said the investigation has revealed that a payment of $5 million US was made by INX Media case co-accused Indrani Mukherjea. But interestingly, Chidambaram denied being asked this question by CBI.

The prosecution argued that when he was shown the said document, Chidambaram remained silent and evasive, and stressed on the need to confront him further with more documents.

Citing the Delhi High Court order that denied Chidambaram anticipatory bail and called him “kingpin”, Mehta also gave the case diary to the court for perusal to make a strong case for getting Chidambaram’s custody. He even cited several Supreme Court judgments during the course of his argument.

Senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, said that the accused in the current case is Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram who has been granted regular bail by the Delhi High Court. He insisted that the investigation is complete as a draft charge sheet has been framed.

Sibal, on question of Chidambaram’s “evasiveness”, told the court that the former Finance Minister insisted on sleeping last night rather than being interrogated and was open to it since 8 a.m. on Thursday. He also complained to the court that it was the CBI which started the questioning at 11 a.m. and asked only Chidambaram 12 questions.

He also argued that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board consists of six Central goverment Secretaries, who recommended the file to then Finance Minister. he also raised a question mark on the credibility of the documents produced by CBI.

Opposing CBI’s custody demand, Sibal, citing the Santosh judgment, argues that bail is the norm, not an exception.

Senior Congress leader and counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued Chidambaram was just an “approver” while the decision was taken by the six members of the FIPB. He also raised questions on the delay over summoning Chidambaram after Indrani Mukherjea’s statement.

The former Finance Minister is accused of granting FIPB clearance for foreign direct investment (FDI) to INX Media when he was the Finance Minister during the UPA government, in exchange for alleged bribes paid to his son Karti Chidambaram.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Chidambaram makes dramatic appearance at party HQ

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Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who has been eluding the CBI and ED, on Wednesday evening dramatically surfaced at the Congress headquarters.

He appeared at the party headquarters, hours after his petition challenging the Delhi High Court rejection of anticipatory bail was not listed in the Supreme Court.

In the morning, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana refused to grant interim relief from arrest to Chidambaram and referred his plea for anticipatory bail in the INX media case to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for urgent hearing.

Chidambaram has challenged the Delhi High Court order which rejected his anticipatory bail plea on Tuesday.

On January 25, the Delhi High Court reserved order on Chidambaram’s bail plea in the case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The agencies had opposed Chidambaram’s bail plea, saying his custodial interrogation was necessary as he was evasive and had given false information during questioning.

The ED and the CBI are probing how his son Karti Chidambaram got clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister.

Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018 by the 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.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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