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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

CBI hints at more trouble for Chidambaram, says probing him for forgery too

P Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in this case on August 21 and after being questioned for about two weeks, is in Tihar jail. When his first bail request was rejected by the CBI Special Judge, Chidambaram moved the Delhi High Court

india Updated: Sep 27, 2019 17:50 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
P Chidambaram denied meeting Indrani Mukerjea in the INX Media foreign fund approval case
P Chidambaram denied meeting Indrani Mukerjea in the INX Media foreign fund approval case(HT Photo/File)
         

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday told the Delhi High Court that he had never met Indrani Mukerjea , the co-founder of INX Media group, whose statement against the veteran Congress leader was taken into account by the CBI for his arrest.

Indrani Mukerjea, who launched the media group along with her husband Peter Mukerjea, is one of CBI’s key witnesses in the INX Media foreign funding case against Chidambaram. She had told the CBI that she had met P Chidambaram (then a finance minister) in his North Block office in 2006 and that he asked her to meet his son - Karti - and suggested that they help him in his business.

P Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in this case on August 21 and after being questioned for about two weeks, sent to Tihar jail. When his first bail request was rejected by the CBI Special Judge, Chidambaram moved the Delhi High Court.

Also Watch l CBI & ED heat on Chidambaram: All there is to know about the INX media case 

In his arguments before the high court, senior lawyer Kapil Singh who is representing P Chidambaram, told the court that the former FM had no recollection of the INX Media group delegation meeting him.

“I am certain that I have never met Indrani Mukerjea at any stage,” Chidambaram’s lawyer told the high court.

Sibal cited Indrani’s husband and INX media owner Peter Mukerjea’s statement in support.

“Peter Mukerjea has himself admitted in his statement that Indrani was not a part of the delegation that met the FM,” Sibal said.

Solicitor General(SG) Tushar Mehta, arguing for the prosecution said there was “enough evidence” to show that Indrani and Peter met Chidambaram, who asked them to take care of the business interest of his son. He added that large number of emails had been exchanged between the representatives of INX media and Karti Chidambaram linked firms, Chess Management Services Limited and Advantages Strategic Consulting Private Limited, with respect to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval.

The SG went on to say that there was “sufficient proof” to show that “large amount of illegal gratification was received” by the petitioner.

CBI through the SG told the court that it was “also investigating forgery” which was punishable by 10 years and argued that the gravity of the offence should not be measured by its punishment provision, but by its “impact on various facets like financial stability, economy, institutions and society”.

Rebutting the defence’s claim that Chidambaram had neither attempted to influence the witnesses nor was he a flight risk, the SG claimed, the former Union minister had been “using his might” to “influence the witnesses”.

“Chidambaram has been using his might to influence the witnesses and the statements of two such witnesses have been given in sealed cover to the court,” Mehta said.

The SG added that Chidambaram’s case met the three factors to be considered for declaring someone a flight risk.

“If the person is influential, powerful and well to do, if he has resources to survive and sustain himself and when he knows that there is a serious case and that he will be convicted,” Mehta said, listing the criteria.

“Those who have fled the country had also held respectable positions in the society,” the SG said before adding, “Lawmakers cannot be allowed to turn into lawbreakers.”

The Delhi High Court has reserved its order on the bail plea after hearing the arguments.


First Published: Sep 27, 2019 16:32 IST

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