A Delhi court on Monday reserved its order on the anticipatory bail pleas of Congress leader P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case lodged by the CBI and the ED to September 5. Special Judge O P Saini listed the matter after hearing the submissions from the agencies and Chidambarams. The court earlier was unhappy with repeated adjournments and gave an ultimatum that if they did not argue the matter, they would issue the order on September 3.
The CBI is probing how Chidambaram granted foreign investment approval for the Aircel-Maxis deal when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs were empowered to do it given its size. The ED is also probing a money laundering case in which anticipatory bail is pending.
The cases relate to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Rs 3,500 crore Aircel-Maxis deal when P Chidambaram was Finance Minister. The father and son were given interim protection from arrest by the court after they had filed anticipatory bail applications in the case. Their protection from arrest has been extended from time to time. The previous extension was ending on August 23. P Chidambaram and Karti were named in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the case on July 19 last year.
An off-shoot of the 2G spectrum allocation scam, the case came into light in 2011, following a complaint by Aircel founder C Srinivasan to the CBI in March 2006.
Since P Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister at that time, the ED said that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval was given in violation of rules and regulations. Under the FDI policy in 2006, P Chidambaram was empowered to give approval not exceeding beyond Rs 600 crore. Probe agencies allege that Chidambaram did not put the case under the scanner of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) while granting approval for FDI worth $800 million, which roughly comes to Rs 3,500 crore.
For an amount greater than Rs 600 crore, it should have been approved by CCEA. It was alleged the foreign investment approval was made to benefit his son, Karti Chidambaram, via companies linked to him. Karti and P Chidambaram are also undergoing investigation for their involvement in INX-Media Case, with the former Finance Minister currently in CBI custody.
(With PTI inputs)