Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, who is facing threat of arrest in the INX Media case, on Wednesday failed to get any immediate relief from a Supreme Court bench which said his petition will be put before the Chief Justice of India for considering urgent listing. Chidambaram's petition seeking protection from arrest was mentioned before a bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi who said the case will be put before CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued a fresh lookout circular against former finance minister P Chidambaram in connection with the INX Media money laundering case, officials said. Already, teams of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate have been making rounds of his Jor Bagh residence ever since the Delhi High Court denied him anticipatory bail on Tuesday.
What is INX Media case?
On May 15, 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister.
According to the CBI, in its application to FIPB in 2007, the media company also mentioned its intention to “make a downstream financial investment to the extent of 26 per cent of the issued and outstanding equity share capital of INX News Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of INX Media”. On May 30, 2007, FIPB cleared FDI of Rs 4.62 crore for INX Media. But it rejected the proposal of downstream investment of INX Media in INX News.
Based on the FIR, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case against him. Chidambaram’s son Karti has also been named in the two cases. He was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI and was later released on bail. The ED had attached properties belonging to him.
The ED had also lodged a case against the company's founders -- former media baron Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani -- and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
On July 4, a Delhi court had allowed Indrani Mukerjea, the former head of the INX Media, to turn an approver in the CBI case. The agency had submitted that it has come across evidence in the form of conversations which only Indrani Mukerjea is privy to and will help consolidate the case.
What are the allegations against Chidambaram?
The senior Congress leader's role had come under the scanner of various investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore. It was during his tenure as finance minister in the UPA-I government that clearances from the FIPB were given to the two ventures.
CBI has alleged that, on May 26, 2008, when FIPB sought clarification from INX Media after the I-T Department began its investigation, the media firm engaged Karti Chidambaram, the promoter director of Chess Management Service (P) Ltd, to “amicably” resolve the issue by “influencing the public servants of the FIPB unit of Ministry of Finance by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram”.
CBI has alleged that FIPB, instead of investigating the case, extended undue favours to the media firm by asking INX News to apply for fresh FIPB approval on the downstream investment that it had already received.