Karti to remain in CBI custody for additional 3 days, rules court
New Delhi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Friday further extended Karti Chidambaram’s custody in connection with the INX Media case by three days, till 12 March.
The court also granted CBI permission to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Chidambaram and his chartered accountant and co-accused, S. Bhaskaraman, who is presently in judicial custody in Tihar jail.
The CBI court also directed the agency to file its reply to Chidambaram’s bail application, which would be heard on 15 March.
Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta sought an extension of CBI custody by six more days to confront Chidambaram with certain “voluminous documents” recovered from the Chennai office of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
Calling “casual remands a travesty of justice”, lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi pressed for Chidambaram’s release. He called CBI’s grounds for extension of remand “make-up pretences” cited “only to harass” Chidambaram.
A person familiar with the developments added that while Bhaskaraman’s statement would not yield much, the court might summon Chidambaram’s father, former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram, within the next fortnight.
“Indrani Mukherjea’s (INX Media director) statement clearly indicts P. Chidambaram. As per the existing First Information Report (FIR) report as well, he can be treated as an accused. We will have to call him in for questioning,” added the person, who did not want to be identified.
Meanwhile, the Delhi high court granted interim relief to Karti Chidambaram, directing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to not take any coercive action, including arrest, against him, till 20 March. Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S Mehta also directed Chidambaram to surrender his passport to ED and cooperate with the investigation.
As a result, if CBI fails to secure any further extension of Chidambaram’s custody, ED cannot proceed to arrest him till the order remains in force.
After his arrest from the Chennai airport on 28 February, Chidambaram was sent to a day’s custody by a special CBI court.
His custody, initially extended by five days on 1 March, was again extended by three days to 9 March.
He is accused of having received Rs10 lakh in kickbacks in 2007 to clear foreign investment worth Rs305 crore for INX Media, which was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, at a time when P. Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
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