Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday refrained from granting any relief to former Union minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti, who sought quashing of the FIR filed by the CBI and its subsequent summonses in the INX Media case.
Justice P Velmurugan directed the court registry to return all the papers in the case to the petitioner so as to enable him approach the Delhi High Court which has superintendence powers in the matter. The judge had on 16 August reserved orders on maintainability of Karti’s petitions seeking to quash the FIR and summons related to the case pending in a CBI special court in Delhi.
Before the verdict was pronounced on Tuesday, the media was asked to leave the courtroom. In his order, the judge held that the petitions filed by Karti were maintainable and the high court had territorial jurisdiction. But, in the interest of justice, and in order to avoid conflicting views in case any of the parties (other accused) moved the Delhi or Bombay High Court, the court held it was inclined to adopt the ‘doctrine of forum of convenience’ so that parties could move the convenient court.
On 15 May, an FIR was registered by CBI against Karti and INX Media along with eight others for alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to the media house for receiving foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2007 when his father was the finance minister. The probe agency had claimed the FDI proposal of the media house was “fallacious" but Chidambaram had cleared it.
The CBI had on 19 July issued summons, the second by the agency in the case, asking Karti to appear before it two days later. Earlier, it had asked Karti and four others to appear for questioning on 27 June and 29. Karti had then informed the CBI through his lawyer that he needed more time to appear. The agency had alleged that a firm “indirectly controlled" by Karti had received money from INX Media, run by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea in 2007.
During the hearing of the petitions earlier, the CBI had opposed them arguing they were not maintainable and wanted the court to dismiss them. In May, the CBI had conducted raids at the premises of Karti, Peter and Indrani at 14 locations in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai in connection with the case. Incidentally, during the pendency of the petition challenging the summons, a ‘look out circular’ was issued by the government against Karti and subsequently stayed by the high court.
However, the Supreme Court had on 14 August stayed the high court order on an appeal by the Centre after observing that Karti had not joined the investigation in the case.