- P Chidambaram, son Karti get protection from arrest in Aircel-Maxis case
- P Chidambaram faces arrest by Enforcement Directorate in INX Media case
- Aircel-Maxis deal involved clearance of $800 million foreign investment
Former Union minister P Chidambaram, who was refused protection from arrest by the Supreme Court in one case today, got it in another case from a trial court. His anticipatory bail plea in case of action by the Enforcement Directorate was accepted by a special court in Delhi. The former minister's son Karti Chidambaram, who has also been named in the Aircel case, was granted protection as well.
The Supreme Court, though, refused to grant protection to the former minister, who has been in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation, in the INX Media case for the last 15 days. The court said protection from arrest at this point will only hamper the investigation of the Enforcement Directorate.
The court's decision leaves the minister open to arrest by the Enforcement Directorate at any time in the same case, even if he gets bail in the CBI's case from a special court.
His bail application is expected to be heard today.
After the verdict, Karti Chidambaram posted a series of tweets, in the first of which, he said, "We win some too". Another tweet read, "As I have been saying it's a non case. Been dragged into only due to political vendetta. I have no connection to Aircel Maxis or to FIPB. I had an Aircel sim though :) and in time this INX bogey will also be slayed".
The Rs. 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal involved clearance of $800 million foreign investment in 2006, allegedly in exchange for kickbacks when Mr Chidambaram was the finance minister in the government headed by Manmohan Singh.
The CBI said the clearance was given illegally, since the finance ministry is not empowered to approve such large sums. Approval in such cases is expected to come from a committee headed by the Prime Minister.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had alleged that the Chidambarams, if left free, would impede the investigation. Accusing them of not cooperating with the investigation, the Enforcement Directorate said they needed to be dealt with an "iron hand".
The court, however, granted them relief and asked them to join the investigation. . "In event of arrest, they be released on a personal bond of Rs. 1 lakh and one surety of like amount. The accused are directed to join the investigation," the court said.
Soon after verdict, Karti Chidambaram tweeted, saying, "We win some too".
The Congress has said the arrest of the 74-year-old former minister was an example of the "vendetta politics" of the BJP.