INX Media case: 6 accused get interim bail
A Delhi court on Friday granted interim bail to Sindhushree Khullar, former chief executive officer of the policy think tank NITI Aayog, and five other former civil servants who had been on the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) when the finance ministry arm allegedly bypassed rules by approving a foreign investment of Rs. 305 crore in broadcaster INX Media in 2007.
The main accused in the case is then finance minister P. Chidambaram, who is in Tihar jail in connection with a money laundering probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar granted relief to Khullar; Pradeep Kumar Bagga, former officer on special duty to the finance minister; former FIPB director Prabodh Saxena; Ajeet Kumar Dungdung, former section officer of the FIPB unit in the finance ministry; Rabindra Prasad, then under secretary in the FIPB unit; and Anup K Pujari, former joint secretary (foreign trade), department of economic affairs, after they were summoned on Friday.
The bureaucrats were summoned by the court after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) named them as accused in the case of corruption related to the grant of FIPB approval to INX Media.
The CBI and ED are investigating alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to INX Media for receiving overseas investment when Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
On Friday, all the six bureaucrats were present in court and moved bail applications. The court granted them interim bail on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and a surety of like amount. The judge also sought the response of the CBI on the bail applications and posted the matter for further hearing on December 17.
Chidambaram was also produced from judicial custody. His son Karti Chidambaram, also an accused and currently on bail in the case, was also present in court. The 74-year-old Congress leader has been granted bail in the INX Media corruption case lodged by CBI, but the ED arrested him in the money laundering case.
The court, while granting bail to the accused, said that they would not leave the country without the permission of the court. “Further, they shall not contact any witness, induce or threaten any person acquainted with the case or tamper with evidence in any manner,” the judge said in a five-page order.
The court had also issued summons to INX Media co-founder Peter Mukerjea, who is currently in Mumbai’s Byculla jail in connection with the murder of his wife Indrani’s daughter from a previous marriage, Sheena Bora. Because he could not be produced on Friday, the court sought his appearance on December 17, the next date of hearing, when it will hear arguments on regular bail applications of the accused.