All the facts considered, CBI custody justified

New Delhi: The Special CBI Court normally grants custodial interrogation on the agency's request without any hesitation. But Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar on Thursday took an hour after the arguments to grant a 4-day custody of P Chidambaram to the CBI for interrogation.

The judge was obviously perplexed on finding the country's four top lawyers, including Chidambaram, making strong submissions before him.

Finally, overruling Chidambaram's contention that he had answered all queries of the agency the one and only time he was quizzed in the case, special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar said, "Considering all the facts, custody is justified".

Chidambaram’s legal team argued that the case was completely based on a case diary and a statement of another accused (Indrani Mukherjee, who is on trial for murder of her daughter).

The team also argued that there was no need for custodial interrogation because there have been no new developments in the case, and he was neither tampering with the evidence, nor liable to become a flight risk. 

The CBI had sought five-day custody of the former Union Minister on the grounds that he has been evasive in the INX Media case in which his son has been accused of getting bribes in return for allowing a media group illegal access to foreign funds.

Chidambaram further contended that he has already told the CBI that he does not have any foreign bank account and that he has answered every question the agency has posed.

"Please look at the questions and answers. There are no questions that I have not answered, please read the transcript. They asked, if I have a bank account abroad, I said no, they asked if my son has an account abroad I said yes," Chidambaram said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed, on behalf of the CBI, that it was a classic case of money laundering and objected to Chidambaram pleading his own case as he had two lawyers in the court to assist him – Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Singhvi, however, protested that an accused cannot be prevented from airing his views and the court allowed Chidambaram to make his own submission.

The former finance minister also said the transcript of his interrogation nails the lie that he was non-cooperative and evasive. Sibal earlier told the court that "this is a case which has nothing to do with evidence but with something else."

‘‘Where is the question of non-cooperation,’’ pointed out Singhvi. ‘‘Non-cooperation is if the probe agency calls me five times and I don't go, non-cooperation is not giving the answer they like to hear. They called P Chidambaram once, and he went. Where is the non-cooperation?"

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