Top Court Seeks Enforcement Directorate's Reply On Karti Chidambaram's Plea

The top court asked the investigating agency to file a reply on the petitions of Karti Chidambaram and a firm against provisional attachment of their properties in connection with a money laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

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Top Court Seeks Enforcement Directorate's Reply On Karti Chidambaram's Plea

The top court has given time till March 8 to file reply in Karti Chidambaram probe. (File)

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court today sought the Enforcement Directorate's reply on a plea of Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, against provisional attachment of his properties in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

The top court asked the investigating agency to file a reply on the petitions of Karti and a firm against provisional attachment of their properties in connection with a money laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy sought a detailed reply from the ED by March 8, after the agency said it needed time to file some additional documents in the case.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, who was appointed by the top court as special prosecutor in the 2G cases and was representing the ED, said although they have filed some documents, some additional papers need to be filed and hence some time should be granted.

"You file reply to all the petitions of petitioner including the Interlocutory Applications by March 8," the bench said.

The matters were taken up for hearing before the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra after Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra recused from hearing the pleas on January 10.

The CJI had then said that he, as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, had heard the case pertaining to 2G spectrum allocation case and hence, would not like to hear the instant petitions.

The bench had then said that another bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, which is already seized of a similar case, would hear the matter.

Karti and two companies, including Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Ltd (ASCPL), have challenged the ED's decision to provisionally attach their assets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in connection with alleged proceeds of crime in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The ED, on September 25 last year, had attached assets worth Rs 1.16 crore of Karti and a firm allegedly linked to him in connection with the probe in the Aircel-Maxis case.

A provisional attachment order, signed by Joint Director and investigating officer of the 2G spectrum allocation cases Rajeshwar Singh, was issued under PMLA for attaching the assets.

The case pertains to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval granted in 2006 by P Chidambaram, with the ED saying it was probing "the circumstances of said FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister".

It had said FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March, 2006 by the then finance minister even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore, while those beyond this amount, required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

"In the instant case, the approval for FDI of 800 million USD (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, CCEA was competent to grant approval. However, approval was not obtained from CCEA," it had alleged.

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It had also alleged that a payment of Rs 26 lakh was made by Aircel Televentures Limited to ASCPL, the firm allegedly linked to Karti, within a few days of the FIPB approval.

The ED is probing the Aircel-Maxis deal under the PMLA after taking cognisance of a 2011 CBI FIR in the case.

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