Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, has moved the Madras High Court seeking quashing of the fresh summons issued by the CBI for questioning him in connection with a corruption case. When the petition came up for hearing today on the question of maintainability, Justice P Velmurugan, after hearing arguments by both sides, adjourned it to July 28 without passing any interim order.
The CBI had on July 19 issued the summons asking Karti to be present today for questioning in the matter related to alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to media group INX Media for receiving funds from Mauritius when his father was the finance minister. This was the second summons issued by CBI in the case.
The agency has alleged that a firm "indirectly controlled" by Karti had received money from INX Media, run by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea in 2007.
Earlier, it had asked Karti and four others to appear for questioning on June 27 and 29. He had then informed the CBI through his lawyer that he needed more time to appear.
In the court today, the CBI opposed the petition arguing it was not maintainable. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the CBI, contended that the summons had been issued well within the jurisdiction and investigating powers of the CBI. The agency wanted the court to dismiss the plea on grounds of maintainability, he said.
Senior Counsel Goal Subramaniam, representing Karti, submitted it was a settled principle of law that issuing summons to an accused and interrogating him would amount to violation of fundamental right guaranteed under Article 20(3) of the Constitution. He said that the article states that no person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
"The Article grants immunity from self-incrimination. Thus the instant summons is only to make the petitioner make self-incriminating statements when it is the case of the petitioner that he has not met any official in the ministry of finance for any purpose much less for FIPB approval for the INX group," he said. Thus the notice summoning his client was liable to be set aside, Subramaniam submitted.
An FIR has been registered against Karti and INX Media along with eight others for alleged irregularities in FIPB clearance given to the media house for receiving foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2007. The probe agency had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house was "fallacious" but the then finance minister Chidambaram had cleared it.
P Chidambaram had issued a strong statement in response to the FIR, saying that the government was using the CBI and other agencies to target his son.
In May this year, the agency had conducted raids at the premises of Karti, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea at 14 locations in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai in connection with the case.