SC asks CBI to decide if Karti Chidambaram can be allowed to travel abroad
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to explore the possibility of allowing Karti Chidambaram to travel abroad for 4-5 days and the conditions that may be imposed on him to do so.
There is a lookout notice operating against Karti Chidambaram in a corruption case for which he is being probed by the CBI. He has on several occasions sought the court’s permission to travel abroad.
The case being investigated against Karti Chidambaram and others is related to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) granting clearance to media house INX Media for receiving overseas funds. The allegation is that Karti Chidambaram facilitated this using the agency of his father P. Chidambaram during his tenure as the finance minister.
Kapil Sibal, counsel for Karti Chidambaram, told the court that his client was ready to be interrogated and restriction on him travelling while the investigation was underway was prejudicial.
He also submitted that it was unfair for the CBI to submit documents as evidence in the court without either sharing them with Karti Chidambaram or calling him for interrogation on the issues which raised apprehensions over his leaving the country.
The bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra also perused confidential documents submitted by the CBI in a sealed cover in the open court to consider the apprehensions being raised on his travelling abroad. The documents were examined by the court and thereafter, sealed and returned to the CBI.
Potential non-disclosure of information, tampering with evidence and failure to return to the country if allowed to travel abroad were some of the grounds cited by the CBI in the documents submitted by it.
The court agreed to consider the confidential documents after Tushar Mehta, solicitor general, said that it would be a “travesty of justice” if the court did not consider them before taking a final decision.
The court was hearing a plea by Karti Chidambaram challenging the look-out notice issued against him in relation to the corruption case being investigated by the CBI.
On 14 August, a bench headed by justice J.S. Khehar stayed a Madras high court order that had earlier blocked a look-out circular issued against Karti Chidambaram and others in relation to the corruption case.
The look-out notice was issued on 16 June and prevented Karti Chidambaram from leaving the country so that he could be present to participate in the ongoing investigation against him.
On 10 August, the Madras high court had ruled that the look-out notices issued against Karti Chidambaram and four others were “unwarranted.”
Besides Karti Chidambaram, the notices had been issued against his associates C.B.N. Reddy, Ravi Viswanathan, Mohanan Rajesh and S. Bhaskararaman.
In his petition, Karti Chidambaram contended that the look-out notice was part of a political vendetta by the central government against his family, had been issued arbitrarily and could not prevent him from travelling abroad.
The case will be heard next on 16 November.
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