New Delhi: The special CBI court on Thursday sent former union finance minister P Chidambaram to CBI custody for four days till August 26 in the INX Media corruption case. Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar heard the arguments of the CBI and Chidambaram's counsel for over one-and-a half-hour.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had sought five days of custody of P Chidambaram, and said he was not cooperating in the investigation.
Chidambaram's plea against the Delhi high court order denying him anticipatory bail has been listed for Friday before the SC bench headed by Justice R Banumathi.
The former union minister was arrested by the CBI from his residence in New Delhi late on Wednesday in connection with the INX Media case.
The agency said Chidambaram's custodial interrogation was necessary to unearth larger conspiracy in the INX Media case. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that grave offence was committed, and custodial interrogation was required to get answer of certain questions for effective probe.
The CBI told the court that the INX Media scam was a serious and monumental case of money laundering.
Chidambaram's family members, including his wife Nalini and son Karti, are also in the courtroom along with other senior advocates including Dayan Krishnan. Heavy security arrangement has been made outside the courtroom.
P Chidambaram’s lawyer Kapil Sibal said Chidambaram was arrested last night, but interrogated only at 11 AM on Thursday.
Sibal argued that the first arrest in the case was of Bhaskar Raman, chartered accountant of Karti, currently out on bail. Besides that, Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, also accused in the case, are also out on default bail as they are in jail in connection with another matter, he added.
The senior advocate contended that the grant of bail was a rule and the issue before the court was of personal liberty.
Sibal also told the court that Chidambaram never skipped interrogation. “Investigation complete as draft chargesheet is ready. Sanction was sought. The FIPB approval is given by six government secretaries, none have been arrested. This is a case of documentary evidence. He (Chidambaram) has never skipped interrogation," ANI quoted Sibal as saying.
Besides Sibal, senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi also appeared for Chidambaram and opposed the CBI's plea by saying that the former union minister was not a flight risk.
Mehta, however, told court there was reasonable ground for Chidambaram's custody since he was evasive in his replies.
Last year, in April, Chidambaram’s son and a co-accused in the INX Media case Karti Chidambaram spent 23 days in CBI and judicial custody.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of ₹305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.
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