NEW DELHI :
A CBI special court on Wednesday issued a production warrant against former finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram.
Chidambaram was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday morning in the INX Media money laundering case. He has been lodged in Tihar jail since 21 August, in a separate corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A special court of the CBI on Wednesday directed Tihar jail authorities to produce Chidambaram before it on Thursday afternoon in connection with the INX Media case.
Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar issued the production warrant when the ED’s counsels N.K. Matta and Amit Mahajan told the court that ED officials have interrogated Chidambaram in Tihar.
The case also has political overtones as it comes just ahead of assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, due on 21 October. While the Congress has accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of engaging in “vendetta politics", the latter has made anti-corruption one of its key poll planks.
The ED has last week sought the veteran Congress leader’s custody for further interrogation in the case relating to alleged money laundering. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta appearing for the ED had said that custodial interrogation would help the agency trace the laundered money which he said had been parked in foreign countries.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, had opposed the custody on the grounds that the cases filed by the CBI and ED are based on the same transaction, an argument Mehta rejected.
Sibal had said as long as the transaction is the same —even though the offences may be different—there cannot be an extension of remand beyond 15 days.
“CBI has already sought his custody for investigating payment and companies abroad, which the ED wants to probe now," Sibal had said.
The special court on 3 October extended the judicial custody of Chidambaram till Thursday in the case filed by the CBI.
Meanwhile in the Supreme Court, a division bench headed by Justice R. Bhanumathi adjourned till Friday the hearing in his bail application in the CBI’s case on INX Media.
The Delhi high court had on 30 September dismissed Chidambaram’s bail plea in the money laundering and corruption cases related to INX Media. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait had then said Chidambaram was not a flight risk but could potentially influence witnesses.
The CBI registered an FIR in May 2017 for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of ₹305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case against him.