Congress leader and businessman Karti Chidambaram, arrested in the INX Media case, was on March 1 remanded in five-day CBI custody by a Delhi court.
Special Judge Sunil Rana extended Mr. Karti Chidambaram’s custody till March 6 after the CBI contended that there were “very shocking evidences” that “when he went abroad, he closed bank accounts in which funds were received”.
Mr. Karti Chidambaram was produced before the court on the expiry of the one-day CBI custody in the presence of his parents, former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Nalini Chidambaram, both senior advocates. They were seen talking to him.
‘Not a case of vendetta’
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta maintained that this was “not a case of political vendetta” and the investigation was going on in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution.
“There are very shocking evidences of what Karti did when he went abroad,” he said, adding that “when he went abroad, he closed bank accounts in which funds were received”.
Even though he did not complain of any uneasiness during his regular medical check-up on Wednesday, doctors at Safdarjung Hospital sent him to the cardiac care unit and he was brought to the CBI office only in the morning.
Due to his hospitalisation, the CBI’s one day custody was virtually wasted as it got Mr. Karti Chidambaram’s custody only at 7:30 p.m. and he returned from the hospital on Thursday morning, he said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Mani Singhvi, who is leading a team of lawyers for Mr. Karti Chidambaram, contended that in connection with the May 2017 FIR, the CBI had spent roughly 22 hours with Mr. Karti Chidambaram in August last and no fresh summons was issued to him after August 2017 till date, which showed the investigating agency had nothing more to ask him.
Not an iota of evidence: Singhvi
“The only way of establishing non-cooperation is to issue summons. You never tested my non-cooperation. Sudden arrest after six months. It’s bizarre, I am arrested as I stepped out of the plane. There is not an iota of evidence against Karti. He is being arrested despite complying with court orders repeatedly.” Mr. Singhvi said.
He asked if Mr. Karti had done something illegal while being abroad, why didn’t the CBI file a contempt petition before the court that allowed him to travel abroad.
The CBI said that in May 2007, first FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval was given to INX Media, and in April 2008, this reference was made in the Finance Ministry. From June 2008 onwards, the payment of the bribe money started. The second FIPB approval was given on November 2, 2008. “We are investigating whether the April 2008 reference was a ‘pressure technique’,” the CBI contended.
“We have emails and invoices indicating money was given to Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Limited [ASCPL], which is related to Karti, around the time period when INX Media received favours. There is substantial evidence with the agency which needs to be confronted with Karti. Three mobile phones have been recovered from him which need to be examined. Fourteen days is the minimum time required to keep him in custody,” Mr. Mehta contended.
Mr. Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018 at the Chennai airport on his return from the United Kingdom in connection with the FIR lodged on May 15 last which alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance given to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of ₹305 crore in 2007 when Mr. P. Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.