The Rouse Avenue Court on Thursday granted CBI custody of P Chidambaram till August 26 in money laundering and corruption cases related to INX Media case. Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar granted the CBI custody of Chidambaram for four days. Furthermore, the CBI has been asked to ensure the dignity of the accused is not violated in any manner during the custodial interrogation. Pronouncing the verdict, the Court has further said that the family members and lawyers are permitted to meet P Chidambaram for 30 minutes a day.
During the hearing, the prosecution had alleged that INX Media entered into a criminal conspiracy and explained how power was misused to grant favours to the private company. A non-bailable warrant was issued against Chidambaram in respect of that the arrest was made, the prosecution led by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.
"P Chidambaram remained silent and evasive during questioning," the solicitor general said. He added that the senior Congress leader kept mum when asked about the payment of various company abroad.
SG Tushar Mehta also said there are several materials on record that the CBI needs to confront him with. "He needs to be confronted with other co-accused and witnesses. There is a money trail. We have prima facie showed a serious, active and informed role of P Chidambaram," he said. Tushar Mehta also placed on record the case diary and the details of the investigation so far. "A serious offence of money laundering will be unearthed if we are granted custodial interrogation," the SG said.
Arguing for the CBI, Tushar Mehta says, "Chidambaram has tremendous potential of not cooperating in probe since he is highly intelligent." Countering Chidambaram's argument, Mehta said everybody is equal before court.
#BREAKING on #ChidambaramArrested | It is a serious case involving intelligent people. It’s not merely documentary evidence. We will fail as a prosecution if we don’t reach the root of the case: SG Tushar Mehta in Court— Republic (@republic) August 22, 2019
Kapil Sibal arguing on behalf of P Chidambaram said that the investigation was completed by CBI. He also attacked the Centre, the central agency in this case, the FIPB approval is given by six secretaries who form the FIPB of the government of India. One of them became the governor of RBI and one is CEO Niti Aayog. These six secretaries have not been arrested. This is a case of documentary evidence. The FIR was filed ten years later. All other accused are on bail," he said. "Just because the CBI makes an allegation, that is not the gospel truth," he added.
#BREAKING on #ChidambaramArrested | If he got money then it must have gone to some account. Was it cash? Was it brought in bags? Which car was it brought in?-Just because a CBI makes an allegation, we should believe it as gospel truth?: Kapil Sibal, arguing for Chidamabram— Republic (@republic) August 22, 2019
Alleging vendetta by the Centre against his client, Sibal said, "This is a matter of personal liberty. Not a question of putting a man in custody because the government wants it. Let me tell you what happened last night."
Opposing custodial interrogation, Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that no allegations of tampering of evidence have been made by the CBI. Singhvi countered the claims of non-cooperation saying that Chidambaram went for all summons, issued by CBI.
In his defence, Chidambaram said that there is no question that he has not answered. He claimed that the only question he was asked was whether he owns a foreign bank account, which he denied.
"The only question asked to me was do you have a foreign bank account? I said no. They asked does your son? I said yes," he said.
Ahead of the hearing, Chidambaram held a discussion with his lawyers at the Rouse Avenue Court. Chidambaram's family members, including his wife Nalini and son Karti, are also in the courtroom along with other senior advocates including Dayan Krishnan. The Chidambarams along with other Congress leaders came to the court, amid heavy security arrangement. He was arrested on Wednesday night after high-end political drama by the CBI officials from his residence in Delhi. He spent the night at the CBI lock-up and appeared in front of the court on Thursday.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.