Karti Chidambaram went abroad to close foreign bank accounts: CBI tells SC
The CBI claimed that “shocking” details have emerged during Karti Chidambaram’s foreign visits which were directly connected to the FIR lodged in the corruption case.india Updated: Sep 22, 2017 20:38 IST
The CBI told the Supreme Court on Friday that Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, was prevented from travelling abroad as he was allegedly closing several of his foreign bank accounts.
Justifying the issuance of a look out circular (LoC) against Karti, the agency also claimed before a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that “shocking” details have emerged during his foreign visits which were directly connected to the FIR lodged in the corruption case.
The CBI FIR, lodged on May 15, had alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Karti’s father was the Union finance minister.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta (ASG), appearing for the CBI, sought to place before the bench some documents in a sealed cover which was vehemently objected to by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for Karti.
“What he did abroad is part of this sealed cover,” Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
When Sibal repeatedly protested the ASG’s submissions that the CBI be allowed to place before it the documents in a sealed cover, Mehta took the opportunity to briefly speak about the contents of documents enclosed in the cover.
“I am objecting to it. This is not a part of the FIR. They cannot file documents in the court like this,” Sibal said.
Mehta retorted, “Let me say what is contained in the sealed cover. What he has done when he was abroad. He said (during interrogation) he has only one account abroad. But when he went abroad, he closed several bank accounts. I don’t want to say all this as it will embarrass him, but I have been compelled.”
Sibal then said that not a single question relating to this was asked by the agency during Karti’s interrogation.
“They interrogated me (Karti), but not a single question was asked on this,” he said, adding “if they can show any signature of Karti on any account, they can prosecute him under the FEMA or blackmoney law”.
When Sibal said Karti had gone abroad to get her daughter admitted at the Cambridge University, Mehta shot back “why are you so afraid if you did only this?”
When the ASG referred to the report of the financial investigation unit, Karti’s counsel said “this has been investigated for the last 10 years”.
The ASG then told the bench, “You please see these documents. Accused cannot say ‘do not show it to the court’.”
Sibal said the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution has been violated in the case, as without issuing any notice to Karti to appear before the CBI, the government had come out with a LoC.
The bench, on hearing the submissions, posted the matter for further proceedings on October 4.
The apex court is hearing CBI’s appeal challenging Madras high court order staying the government’s LOC against Karti in the alleged graft case.
On September 1, the CBI had told the top court that there were “good, cogent” reasons for issuing the LoC against Karti.
On August 18, the court had asked Karti to appear before the investigating officer at the CBI headquarters here for questioning in the case. The bench had given CBI the liberty to question Karti as many times it wanted.
Before this, the apex court had said that Karti would not be allowed to leave India without subjecting himself to investigation in the case. The court had then stayed the high court order putting on hold the LOC against Karti.
The CBI had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house, cleared by Chidambaram, was “fallacious”.
The FIR was registered on May 15 before the special CBI judge here and the registration of the case was followed by searches at the residences and offices of Karti and his friends the very next day.