P Chidambaram has denied any wrongdoing (File)
New Delhi: Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram's plea for anticipatory bail was turned down on Tuesday by the Delhi High Court, opening up the possibility of his arrest in the INX Media case. Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI visited his home this evening and left a notice, asking him to present himself at the agency's office within two hours of seeing it. Investigators say Mr Chidambaram facilitated a mammoth foreign funding for the television company in 2007, for which his son Karti Chidambaram received kickbacks. The court said prima facie, there's evidence that the former minister is the "kingpin" and blocking the investigative agencies will send a "wrong message". Mr Chidambaram has denied any wrongdoing.
Here are 10 points in the case:
- The agencies probing the case - the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate- visited the senior Congress leader's South Delhi home this evening but left as he was not in. Late in the evening, the agency put up a notice outside his home and e-mailed him a copy. Three officials - one from the CBI and two from Enforcement Directorate -- are waiting at the former minister's home.
- Mr Chidambaram's legal team, led by Kapil Sibal, is challenging the High Court order in the Supreme Court and are expected to request for an early hearing today, sources said.
- "Facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner is the kingpin, that is, the key conspirator in this case," Delhi High Court's Justice Sunil Gaur said. The "magnitude and enormity" of material produced by the investigating agencies "dis-entitles him from any pre-arrest bail," he added.
- Mr Chidambaram, who was given interim relief by the court last year when he applied for anticipatory bail, has been "evasive in his replies and has not cooperated with the investigation" since, the judge said. "Simply because he is a Member of Parliament would not justify grant of pre- arrest bail to him," he added
- Calling it a "classic case of money laundering", Justice Sunil Gaur, who will retire Thursday, said the court cannot permit the prosecution in this "sensitive case to end up in smoke as it has happened in some other high profile cases".
- The Chidambarams were named in the case by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who owned INX Media at the time. The two are currently in jail, accused of being involved in the murder of Indrani Mukerjea's daughter Sheena Bora.
- The CBI registered a case in May 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving foreign funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Mr Chidambaram was the finance minister in Manmohan Singh's government.
- Last year, the Enforcement Directorate lodged a money laundering case in this regard. The two agencies have already questioned Mr Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram. In July 2018, the high court granted Mr Chidambaram interim protection from arrest and it was extended from time to time.
- Karti Chidambaram was arrested in the case in 2018 and remained in custody for 23 days. The Enforcement Directorate has attached properties worth Rs 54 crore belonging to Karti Chidambaram and a firm in the case.
- The Chidambarams have also come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs. 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal, which involves a clearance of $800 million foreign investment granted to the company in 2006 allegedly in exchange of kickbacks. While the approval was expected to come from a committee headed by the Prime Minister, it illegally came from the finance ministry, the CBI said.
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