NEW DELHI :
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Thursday granted anticipatory bail to senior Congress leader and former Union minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case. The court has directed the two to cooperate in the probe.
The former minister and his son have been granted bail on furnishing of ₹1 lakh each, with one surety of the same amount.
They have been told not to contact, threaten, or influence any witness, or tamper with evidence in any manner. The two have also been barred from leaving the country without the prior permission of the court.
“An investigating agency should not discriminate against the two similarly situated accused, as this is against the rule of law. It may be noted that unwarranted discrimination in the treatment given to different accused in the same case violates the basic norms of the Constitution that the state instrumentalities should always operate in a just, fair and reasonable manner," special judge O.P. Saini said.
The court said both are members of Parliament. “Chidambaram is a member of the Rajya Sabha, while Karti is a member of Lok Sabha... Considering these factors, there was no apparent possibility of the accused fleeing from justice. The prosecution has also not cited any appreciable reason for such apprehension," it said.
“Considering the distance of time between the commission of the alleged crime and the filing of the instant applications, as well as the unexplained delay in investigation, and there being no possibility of the applicants/accused committing a serious crime again and the law quoted above, I am satisfied that it is a fit case for grant of benefit of their arrest," the court said.
Opposing the protection from arrest for Chidambaram and his son Karti, the agencies had claimed the two may hamper the probe and sought their custodial interrogation in the case.
CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are probing how Karti Chidambaram received clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board for the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when his father was Union finance minister.
CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had alleged that the Congress leader, as finance minister during the United Progressive Alliance regime, granted approval to the deal beyond his capacity benefitting certain persons, and received kickbacks.
CBI had in October 2018 filed a chargesheet naming Chidambaram and a few others in the case. Last year, the CBI filed another chargesheet against 18 people.