New Delhi: Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI Wednesday night from his residence in connection with INX media corruption case after dramatic developments with the agency sleuths scaling walls to gain access to the bungalow in the high-end Jor Bagh locality.
"Mr P Chidambaram has been arrested in connection with INX media case," a senior official of the agency said. A CBI spokesperson said he has been arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by a competent court. After his arrest, doctors from the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital conducted medical examination on him at the CBI headquarters, sources said. Chidambaram has been kept in the suit No. 5 of the CBI Guest House on the ground floor of the agency headquarters, they said.
He will be produced before a special CBI court on Thursday, where the agency will seek his remand. The CBI which was looking for 73-year old Chidambaram since Tuesday after his anticipatory bail application was rejected by the Delhi High Court managed to get a whiff of his location only when he appeared on camera at the Congress headquarters in the evening to make a press statement. Rejecting reports of his evading the law, he told reporters that the charges against him and his son were "nothing further from truth".
Flanked by senior Supreme Court lawyers and party colleagues Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Chidambaram said he was working with his lawyers through the last night, preparing his papers for his bail application, which was filed before the Supreme Court earlier. The sleuths rushed to the party office, but by the time they reached, Chidambaram had already left for his residence 115-A in Jorbagh, a 10-minute distance from the party office, in a luxury sedan accompanied with his lawyers and party colleagues -- Singhvi and Sibal.
Leaving no stones unturned to avoid an embarrassing situation of Tuesday when the agency failed to locate him at his bungalow, the CBI team made a strong presence today with about two dozens officers swarming the place. With a big media contingent beaming live images of the developments, the CBI team first knocked the gates to gain entry but finding no response, they nimbly scaled the nearly five-ft high walls to gain entry.
Once three officers reached inside, they opened the gates to allow entry to other team members waiting outside. Soon a team of officers, identifying themselves as from ED, too arrived at the scene. A team of about two dozen officials remained on guard at the bungalow when Chidambaram was inside with Sibal and Singhvi. After completing arrest formalities, the CBI team had to wade through Congress supporters who had gathered outside raising slogans against the agency.
Some supporters jumped on the white car in which Chidambaram was being taken to the agency headquarters. Delhi Police personnel were also posted to prevent any adverse law and order situation. The agency had been seeking Chidambaram's "custodial interrogation" in the case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the grant of foreign investment clearances to INX Media when he was the finance minister.
They said Chidambaram was summoned last year for questioning in the case but he remained evasive in his responses. The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant P Chidambaram any protection from arrest by rejecting his plea seeking anticipatory bail. Swinging into action after the high court order, a team of CBI officers had landed at the Jor Bagh residence here to locate him but he was not present. The agency officials returned after pasting a notice at his residence on Tuesday night asking him to be present before the investigation officer of the case within two hours. Chidambaram did not appear before them.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has listed Chidambaram's petition on Friday without giving him any interim relief in the matter. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.