The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram on the Enforcement Directorate’s plea challenging the anticipatory bail granted to them in the Rs. 3500 crore Aircel Maxis scam. The two had been granted anticipatory bail by Special CBI Judge OP Saini against the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate on September 5.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta arguing for the ED before the Delhi High Court on Friday stated that the trial court order was unfounded. He said that the Court opined that the offences were not of “grave magnitude” but failed to appreciate that the money allegedly said to have been laundered is upwards of Rs. 3500 crores. The SG also told the single-judge bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait that the trial court had granted anticipatory bail without considering the order of the Supreme Court in the INX Media Case which had a “direct bearing” on the investigation in the Aircel Maxis case. The SG also argued that Special CBI Judge had passed the order for anticipatory bail without considering the judgment of the SC in the INX Media case which had a direct bearing on this case.
The ED had challenged the trial court order in a plea filed on Thursday alleging that there was a likelihood of evidence tampering if the accused are allowed out on bail. ED also stated that the grant of pre-arrest bail in cases of economic offenses was “unwarranted” and that the trial court order ought to be set aside. Through this plea, the investigating agency has once again made its intention clear to take the father-son duo in custody on charges of money laundering in the grant of allegedly illegal FIPB approvals to Mauritius based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis in March of 2006, during the tenure of P. Chidambaram as the Finance Minister. In a supplementary charge sheet filed by ED last year, the agency had stated:
“As per rules and FDI policy of Government of India in 2006, Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister was empowered to give approval of the foreign investment to the proposals involving foreign investment up to Rs 600 crore only. The foreign investment proposal of Global Communication and Services Holdings Limited was USD 800 million which amounts to Rs 3,560 crore approximately (when 1 USD was Rs 44.5). The foreign investment proposal of Global Communication and Services Holdings Limited should have been referred to Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) but it was not done and approved by Chidambaram under a conspiracy." Chidambaram and his son have both been asked to file their responses to ED’s plea by November 29, when the case will be heard next by Justice Kait.