Chidambaram CBI custody: The frenzy surrounding former union minister P Chidambaram came to a certain pause as CBI court remanded him to CBI custody till August 26, that is, for next 5 days. The former Union Home Minister will now be questioned by the investigation agency in connection with the INX Media case.
Medical check-up of P Chidambaram will be done once in every 48 hours. He will be allowed to meet family for 30 minutes each day.
P Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in a dramatic turn of events on Thursday. After he addressed a brief press conference at All India Congress Committee headquarters, he went to his Jor Bagh residence where a CBI team arrested him after a stand-off.
What happened on Thursday (August 22)?
On Thursday morning, CBI Headquarters were almost like a fortress with heavy deployment of security officials. From the headquarters, Chidambaram was taken to CBI court around 3:15 pm
Chidambaram was produced in the court amidst tight security and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for him, argued that the first arrest in the case was of Bhaskar Raman, chartered accountant of Karti, who is presently out on bail.
Besides that, Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, also accused in the case, are out on default bail as they are in jail in connection with another matter, Sibal said.
He said the FIPB approval was given by senior officials, who were not arrested.
He also contended that grant of bail was a rule and the issue before the court was of personal liberty.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said CBI has to interrogate Chidambaram in custody as he was non-cooperative and evasive in replies.
He told the court that the agency was not extorting a confession from Chidambaram but it had the right to reach the root of the case.
"It is a serious case involving intelligent people and we will fail in our duty if we don't get to the root of the case," the solicitor general said, adding that even Karti underwent custodial interrogation in the case.
Mehta said Chidambaram has tremendous potential of not cooperating in probe since he is highly intelligent and certain facts about the case cannot be narrated in the open court.
Besides Sibal, senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, also appeared for Chidambaram, opposed CBI's plea saying that the former Union Minister was not a flight risk.
Singhvi said the entire CBI case was based on the statement of Indrani Mukherjea, who has turned approver in the case.
What is the INX Media case against Chidambaram?
The CBI registered an FIR in 2017, for an alleged discrepancy in FIPB clearance given to INX group. The clearance was given in the year 2007 when P Chidambaram was Union Finance Minister.
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND) under the Finance Ministry had raised queries over foreign direct investment of over Rs 305 crore made by three Mauritius-based companies in INX Media Pvt Ltd, then owned by Peter Mukherjea and his wife Indrani Mukerjea.
The case was forwarded by Mumbai IT Department to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which also registered a case against the media organisation in 2010. INX Media in turn engaged Chidambaram's son Karti -- the promoter-director of Chess Management Service (P) Ltd, to resolve the issue, by influencing various departments of FIPB.
How Indrani Mukerjea's statement turned tide against Chidambaram
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has been investigating the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the INX media case, was unable to make a watertight case despite arresting Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram in February 2018.
According to a senior CBI official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, Mukherjea's statement was recorded in February 2018 and at the end of the month, Karti Chidambaram was arrested, but the agency was "unable to connect all the dots instantly".
"But things changed soon after we studied Mukherjea statement in which she shared a lot of information with us, details about the meeting with then Finance Minister in his office in the North Block and then her meeting with Karti Chidambaram in a Delhi hotel," he said.
(With PTI and IANS inputs)
Watch | P Chidambaram sent to CBI custody till August 26