“Considering Facts, Justified”: CBI Custody Till Monday For P Chidambaram

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INX Media Case: P Chidambaram will be lodged in the “Lock-up suite 3” in the guest house floor of the CBI building, where he spent the night after his dramatic arrest on Wednesday.

NEW DELHI: 

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram was sent to the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation, which arrested him on Wednesday evening alleging that he was not cooperating with the investigation. Ruling out Mr Chidambaram’s contention that he had answered all the questions of the agency the one and only time he was questioned in the case, special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar said, “Considering all the facts, custody is justified”.

The former minister’s legal team had argued that the CBI’s contention was not justified and Mr Chidambaram had not been asked about alleged kickbacks to his son Karti Chidambaram during his questioning on June 6, 2018.

In his special submission to the court, Mr Chidambaram confirmed it, and asked the judge to refer to the transcript of his questioning by the agency, which is part of the case diary.

Pointing out that no new developments have taken place, Mr Chidambaram said there was no question of his fleeing the country, nor was he tampering with the evidence, and so, there was no reason for any custodial interrogation.

“This case is completely based on a case diary and a statement of another accused,” said Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is part of Mr Chidambaram’s legal team. Mr Chidambaram, he said, was first called in June 2018, months after Indrani Mukerjea recorded her statement.

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P Chidambaram was arrested amid high drama on Wednesday night

Mr Chidambaram’s wife Nalini Chidambaram and son Karti Chidambaram were present in court. Karti Chidambaram has been named in the case as a recipient of kickbacks. The judge said while in custody, the 73-year-old will undergo medical examination every 48 hours. He would also be allowed to meet his family members and counsels for half-an-hour every day.

The former minister will be lodged in the “Lock-up suite 3” in the guest house floor of the CBI building, where he spent the night after his dramatic arrest on Wednesday. But he was not questioned at all last night. This morning, he was asked 12 questions, but they did not include anything on kickbacks, Kapil Sibal said.

The investigators have alleged that in 2007, Mr Chidambaram facilitated a huge transfusion of foreign funds to INX Media — then owned by former media baron Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani Mukerjea — during his tenure as the finance minister in the UPA government. His son Karti Chidambaram had received kickbacks for the arrangement, the investigators said.

Indrani Mukerjea, who turned approver in the case, has alleged that Mr Chidambaram instructed them to help Karti Chidambaram in his businesses in exchange for the approval for foreign investment.

On Tuesday, the Delhi high court refused anticipatory bail to Mr Chidambaram, which led to his arrest last evening.

Sources said Mr Chidambaram is likely to be confronted with files of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which gave the clearance. Mr Chidambaram, who headed the board as the finance minister, had signed off on it.

COMMENT

Peter and Indrani Mukerjea are currently in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena Bora.

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