P. Chidambaram’s custody necessary in INX Media case: CBI, ED tell Delhi High Court

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday told the Delhi High Court that custodial interrogation of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is required in the INX Media cases. Justice Sunil Gaur reserved the order on former Finance Minister’s anticipatory bail plea after Chidambaram and the probe agencies concluded the arguments. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that custodial interrogation of Chidambaram was necessary as he was evasive and had given false information during questioning.

The ED and the CBI have opposed the anticipatory bail plea of Chidambaram. Chidambaram’s counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that there was no evidence against his client. He also apprised the court that investigation was almost over and sanction had been obtained by the Finance Ministry to prosecute Chidambaram in the case. However, Mehta countered that the investigation was still going on and there was sufficient evidence against the accused.

Advocate Mehta told the court that Chidambaram was not disclosing the material ought to be in his knowledge and the agencies required his custodial interrogation which will be qualitatively different. He also said that the agencies want to exercise their statutory rights for arresting the former Minister and seek his custodial interrogation. Chidambaram’s counsel said that FIR contains neither his name nor any allegations against him. The counsel also told the court that there was nothing on record to show that the former Minister was evasive in his reply.

Sibal said that Chidambaram was called for questioning by the CBI only once in June 2018 while in the money laundering case probed by ED he joined the investigation whenever required. “All evidence in this case appears to be documentary in nature, which is already in the possession of probe agencies. Further, the said documentary evidence is largely in the form of files of the Ministry of Finance, which are currently in safe and secure possession of the government of the day,” Chidambaram said in his plea filed through counsel Arshdeep Singh Khurana. Chidambaram is on interim protection from arrest granted by the Delhi High Court.

The court was hearing the plea from Chidambaram who sought protection from arrest from ED and CBI. The ED and the CBI are probing how his son Karti Chidambaram managed to get clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Karti was arrested on February 28 by the CBI for allegedly taking money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media in 2007 when his father was the Finance Minister. Later, he was granted bail.

Karti’s Chartered Accountant S. Bhaskararaman was also arrested and he got bail later. The agencies reiterated that the probe so far showed that for the FIPB approval, INX Media directors Peter and Indrani Mukerjea met Chidambaram and the Minister asked them to meet his son and thereafter transaction of money took place in the companies which were directly or indirectly controlled by Karti.

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