Karti remanded in police custody, CBI may ‘proceed against’ P Chidambaram
The case against Karti Chidambaram is that, in exchange for a bribe, he got the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which worked under the finance ministry, to regularize a violation of a foreign direct investment approval by INX Media.india Updated: Mar 07, 2018 08:07 IST
Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, was remanded to three more days in police custody by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Tuesday for his alleged role in the INX Media bribery case. The court’s order comes even as the CBI is preparing the ground for questioning P Chidambaram, according to an official at the agency who asked not to be named.
CBI produced Karti, 46, before special judge Sunil Rana after his five-day police custody expired on Tuesday.
The agency, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, sought another 9 days’ police custody for Karti, stating that CBI required to interrogate Karti further owing to new evidence found by it on Sunday. Mehta’s arguments also rested on how Karti continued to be evasive and non-cooperative. In turn, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Karti, emphasised that his client had indeed cooperated with the agency and questioned the credibility of INX Media co-founder Indrani Mukerjea’s statements, which form a part of the case agains Karti.
The CBI’s plea to extend Karti’s custody comes even as it is preparing to involve P Chidambaram in the investigation.
“We have not questioned P Chidambaram in the case so far. Indrani Mukherjea has told investigators and repeated the same before magistrate as well that the senior Chidambaram asked her to meet Karti. Her statement is corroborated with other material facts like payments allegedly received by Karti’s companies,” added the CBI official cited above.
The case against Karti Chidambaram is that, in exchange for a bribe, he got the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which worked under the finance ministry, to regularize a violation of a foreign direct investment approval by INX Media.
The officer added since many of these payments were allegedly received by Karti’s companies outside India, the agency will soon send letters rogatory, basically a court approved request, to foreign countries for assistance in the probe, seeking details of these transactions.
“Such letters rogatory will be sent to Singapore, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Switzerland and few other countries,” added the official.
When contacted, P Chidambaram refused to offer any comment.
Back in court, Mehta said that names of new companies had surfaced during the probe and CBI needed to confront Karti with these new facts. The agency also alleged that witnesses in the case were being approached and evidence destroyed.
“New revelations in the matter have come up day before yesterday. We cannot divulge much about investigation but we need his further custody to confront him with the new facts,” Mehta said.
The CBI alleged that Karti continues to be evasive and had been refusing to cooperate with the investigation, telling probe officers that he is being politically victimised.
“When we recovered his phone, he refused to give his password. This is one of the instances when the accused refused to cooperate with the investigation,” Mehta said.
Karti’s lawyer Singhvi said the CBI wanted to keep Karti in custody by “hook or by crook” and that Karti had cooperated with the probe agency by making himself available everytime he had been summoned. Singhvi said that the agency cannot continue interrogating Karti till the time they get him to say “what they want as an answer”.
“The shifting of stands/reasons by the CBI to keep me (Karti) in custody is a mala fide attempt on their part to get my custody,” the senior advocate said.
Singhvi questioned a statement given to CBI by Indrani Mukherjea accusing Karti of demanding a bribe in exchange for approvals sought by her company to receive foreign funding.
“Is Indrani’s statement even an admissible evidence? She is in jail in a murder case of her daughter,” he asked.
The senior advocate said Karti was not a terrorist with a bomb that he could not be interrogated without being kept in CBI custody.
Sitting in the court were also Karti’s parents who were allowed to meet their son for a period of 10 minutes.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court refused to grant Karti interim protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case relating to the INX Media group.
The top court asked the ED and the CBI to file their responses on a fresh plea by Karti against the probe done in the money laundering case.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said its order will not come in the way of the proceedings being conducted before any court. “Needless to emphasise, our present order shall have no impact on any proceedings pending against the petitioner in any Court. Matter be listed on March 8,” it said.