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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Chidambaram taken to CBI HQ from his house amid high drama, arrested

Minutes before his arrest by the CBI, Chidambaram had hoped the probe agencies will await the Supreme Court’s decision on his bail plea on Friday.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2019 22:52 IST
Amrita Madhukalya
Amrita Madhukalya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Officers of the CBI, ED and Delhi Police reached Chidambaram’s home again soon after his press conference ended at Congress headquarters. When no one responded to officers thumping at the gates for a few minutes, one officer scaled the wall to open it for the rest. (PTI photo)
Officers of the CBI, ED and Delhi Police reached Chidambaram’s home again soon after his press conference ended at Congress headquarters. When no one responded to officers thumping at the gates for a few minutes, one officer scaled the wall to open it for the rest. (PTI photo)
         

In a dramatic turn of events, Congress leader P Chidambaram was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation after he made a surprise appearance at the Congress headquarters on Wednesday evening to assert that he was not on the run.

“I was aghast that I was accused of hiding from the law. On the contrary, I was seeking the protection of the law. I was accused of running away from justice. On the contrary, I was engaged in the pursuit of justice ,” Chidambaram told a late evening news conference at the Congress headquarters before heading for his Delhi home from where he was taken to the CBI office and placed under arrest.

Officers of the CBI, ED and Delhi Police reached Chidambaram’s home again soon after his Press conference ended. When no one responded to officers thumping at the gates for a few minutes, one officer scaled the wall to open it for the rest.

 Watch: INX Media case: ‘Was not hiding,’ says Chidambaram at Congress HQ

The former minister’s son Karti Chidambaram, who was with him at home, tweeted his swipe at the agency. “The drama and spectacle being enacted by the agencies is to simply sensationalise and satisfy the voyeuristic pleasure of some,” he tweeted.

Nearly 30 minutes later, a white Maruti Ertiga car drove out of the apartment complex to the CBI headquarters a few kilometres away. Soon after, the CBI spokesperson Nitin Wakankar announced that P Chidambaram had been placed under arrest.

Wakankar said the former minister was arrested on a warrant issued by the competent court.

Minutes earlier, Chidambaram had made a public request to the CBI asking them to wait till the Supreme Court hears his petition on Friday had gone unheeded.

“Between now and Friday, I shall walk with clear conscience and my head held high. I shall respect the law even if it is applied with an unequal hand by the investigating agencies. In the name of freedom, I can only hope and pray that the investigating agencies will also respect the law. In the present circumstances, respect for the law can mean only one thing – await the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on Friday,” the former minister had said.

In his seven-minute statement, Chidambaram also laid out his side of the story to counter what the Congress has described as an effort at “character assasination”.

The former minister insisted that neither he, nor anyone from his family, had been named as an accused in the INX Media case by either the CBI or the ED.

“For the last 24 hours, much has happened that has caused concern to some and confusion to many. In the INX media case, I have not been accused of any offence, nor has anyone else, including any member of my family, been accused of any offence. In fact, there is no chargesheet filed either by the CBI or the ED before any competent court. Further, the FIR recorded by CBI doesn’t include any wrongdoing by me, yet there is an impression that a great offence has been committed and my son and I have committed those offences,” he said in his statement.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Chidambaram asserted in his statement that he had prefaced with the importance of liberty, “the foundation of democracy”.

Chidambaram, who had not been seen in public after the Delhi High Court rejected his request for anticipatory bail, said he had been working with a team of lawyers through the night on the petition moved before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The special leave petition was filed in the court earlier on Wednesday but was not heard by the court through the day despite “impassioned” appeals by his lawyers, he said. By evening, court officials told his legal team that the Supreme Court would take up the case only on Friday.

“I bow down to the orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court,” he said.

The ED and the CBI are probing how his son Karti Chidambaram got clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister.

Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018 by the CBI for allegedly accepting money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media. He was later granted bail. His chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman was also arrested and released on bail.

On January 25, the Delhi High Court reserved order on Chidambaram’s bail plea in the case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).