Chidambaram rushes to courts for protection from arrest in 2 cases

NEW DELHI, May 30: Congress leader P Chidambaram today rushed to a trial court and the Delhi High Court seeking protection from arrest in corruption cases relating to the Aircel Maxis deal and the INX Media, in which he has been asked by probe agencies to join investigations.

In both Aircel-Maxis deal of Rs 3,500 crore and INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore, Chidambaram’s role has come under the scanner of the investigating agencies as during his tenure as Finance Minister in the UPA-1 regime, FIPB clearance was granted to the two ventures in which alleged irregularities have been found.

A case of alleged money laundering was being probed in the Aircel-Maxis deal in which Enforcement Directorate had summoned Chidambaram for questioning today and the CBI has slapped a notice on him to join the probe in the INX Media case tomorrow.

The day began with Chidamabaram approaching the court of Special Judge O P Saini, which directed the ED not to take any coercive action or arrest him till June 5 in connection with the Aircel-Maxis deal in which he was asked to appear for questioning.

In the order, the court noted that Chidambaram has undertaken to comply with the summons issued by the ED while saying he apprehended his arrest by the agency.

Hours after getting the relief from the trial court, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, drove to the Delhi High Court with a petition on behalf of Chidambaram, seeking anticipatory bail in the INX Media case.

The development before the High Court witnessed some drama as Justice S P Garg recused to hear the matter and the file was placed before acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal, who allocated the case for hearing before Justice A K Pathak.

Justice Pathak, in the forenoon session, said he was willing to hear the matter after 3:00pm but Sibal expressed his difficulty and both the sides consented to get the matter to be heard tomorrow.

Earlier during the hearing before the trial court, Sibal and Singhvi, who are also Chidambaram’s party colleagues, urged for relief contending that the former minister has clean antecedents and deep roots in the society.

In his plea, Chidambaram said all the evidence in the matter appears to be documentary in nature which is already in the possession of the incumbent Government and nothing was to be recovered from him.

However, special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana, appearing for the ED, opposed Chidambaram’s plea saying he did not join the investigation today, for which the ED had already issued summons.

In the High Court, advocate P K Dubey, who was assisting the two senior counsel, filed the petition seeking anticipatory bail for Chidambaram contending that the former minister was harassed in the case in which he was not named in the FIR but has been asked to join questioning by the CBI.

In both the Aircel-Maxis deal and INX Media case, the role of Chidamabaram’s other family members including son Karti Chidambaram, has come under the scanner of ED and CBI.

Karti was arrested by the CBI in connection with the INX Media case on February 28 and released on bail on March 23 by the Delhi High Court. The trial court had also protected him from arrest in the Aircel-Maxis matter till July 10.

The Aircel-Maxis cases pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd in 2006 for investment in Aircel.

The court had last year discharged former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his industrialist brother Kalanithi Maran and others in the Aircel-Maxis cases of CBI and ED.

However, that order did not have any effect on two accused Malaysian nationals — Ralph Marshall and T Ananda Krishnan — in the CBI’s case as the court had already segregated the proceedings against them from that of the Marans and others.

In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15 last year against alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. It was alleged that Karti had received funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh in the case.

The other accused in the case include then INX Media Director Indrani Mukerjea and then INX News Director Peter Mukerjea.

Karti’s arrest was made on the basis of the statement of Indrani Mukerjea, former Director of INX Media (P) Ltd, who had stated that she and her husband Peter Mukerjea had acceded to Karti’s demand of one million dollars for allegedly fixing the violations done in the FIPB clearance. (PTI)


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