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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

P Chidambaram produced in Delhi court, challenges ED’s arrest plan

Chidambaram was first arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case on 21 August after a dramatic turn of events. Once the CBI had done grilling him, Chidambaram had offered to surrender in the related case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2019 17:56 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Former Finance Minister and Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram sits inside a police vehicle as he is brought for hearing at Rouse Avenue District court in New Delhi.
Former Finance Minister and Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram sits inside a police vehicle as he is brought for hearing at Rouse Avenue District court in New Delhi.(Photo: Amal KS/ Hindustan Times)
         

Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar who ordered former finance minister P Chidambaram’s production in court on Monday at the Enforcement Directorate’s request will rule tomorrow on the investigating agency’s plan to arrest the Congress leader. The ED, which was all prepared to arrest Chidambaram after the judge last week ordered his production, faced stiff opposition from the ex-minister’s legal team that asked the court to recall or cancel its order.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal told the court that the ED, which wanted to arrest Chidambaram, was only relying on the FIR registered by the CBI in the INX Media case.

The INX Media case pertains to alleged irregularities in clearance by the foreign investment promotion board to the INX Media group for overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister. The ED had registered a money laundering case in this regard, accusing the ex-minister of laundering proceeds of crime in this case.

Sibal, who questioned the court issuing production warrant for Chidambaram without hearing him, also argued that the ED should have sought the court’s permission under a different provision of the money laundering law.

Chidambaram was first arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case on 21 August after a dramatic turn of events. Once the CBI grilled him for two weeks, Chidambaram had offered to surrender in the related case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate. That request was turned down by the ED and Chidambaram was sent to Tihar jail.

Last week, the ED told Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar that the agency had recorded the statement of 12 people and was now ready to interrogate him in the INX Media case. Judge Kuhar had ordered the authorities to produce Chidambaram before the court at 3 pm. But Chidambaram contested the move. Judge Kuhar heard both sides for the next 100 minutes - Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had offered to move another application to seek Chidambaram’s custody under a different section if required - before announcing that he will rule on the objections tomorrow.

The ruling by the special judge will come hours after a bench of the Supreme Court is expected to take up the former minister’s request for bail in the CBI case. The high court had recently rejected his bail plea, holding that the senior politician could influence witnesses.

Chidamabram has spent nearly 40 days in Tihar jail.

P Chidambaram and son Karti are also fighting off an attempt by the investigating agencies to convince the Delhi High Court to cancel their anticipatory bail granted to them in the Rs 3,500 crore Aircel Maxis scam.

A Delhi court had granted protection from pre-arrest bail to the father-son duo stating that the charges against them were not of grave magnitude as the money allegedly laundered is a “paltry amount” of Rs 1.13 crore compared to the money purportedly received by accused already discharged in the cases. This case would, however, be heard only next month-end when the high court hears the ED’s appeal against the discharge of Dayanidhi Maran.