The Central Bureau of Investigation is being used as the government's "personal revenge-seeking department", the Congress said this morning after former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was arrested from his home by the agency last night.
"The case has been lodged nine years later... he has been arrested 11 years later. This is being done by the CBI, which is being used as government's personal revenge-seeking department," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference. "India witnessed broad daylight murder of democracy as also the rule of law in the last two days," he added.
Mr Chidambaram, 73, spent the night at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters after a dramatic arrest late on Wednesday from his house in south Delhi by officials who even climbed a wall in their attempts to get to him. Sources say his questioning started this morning. Later in the day, the CBI will take him to court and reportedly ask for maximum custody - 14 days - for his interrogation.
Mr Chidambaram is accused of facilitating foreign investment into a television company, INX Media, in 2007, when he was Finance Minister, at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks. Sources say he will be confronted with files of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which Mr Chidambaram headed as minister.
Mr Chidambaram and his son were named by INX co-founders Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani Mukerjea's daughter Sheena Bora. Mr Chidambaram has denied the allegations and so has Karti. "A seasoned man with 40 years of dedication to public life has been arrested on the statement of a jailed woman who is being charged of murdering her own daughter, " Mr Surjewala said, referring to Indrani Mukerjea.
Mr Chidambaram, who had gone incommunicado for over 24 hours after the Delhi High Court rejected his anticipatory bail request, caught the CBI off-guard when he surfaced at the Congress headquarters on Wednesday evening.
"I was aghast that I was accused of hiding from the law...On the contrary, I was engaged in the pursuit of justice," Mr Chidambaram read out a brief statement at the party's headquarters.
The Congress has rallied behind Mr Chidambaram, one of the party's strongest defenders, with Rahul Gandhi calling the investigative agencies' pursuit of the senior leader a "disgraceful misuse of power" and his sister Priyanka Gandhi saying the former minister was being "shamefully hunted down".
All of Tuesday, is lawyers and party colleagues Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi had tried without luck to get the Supreme Court to urgently hear his petition for interim protection from arrest. The court decided to take up the petition on Friday.
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