P Chidambaram's Plea Rejected, Custodial Interrogation A Possibility

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P Chidamabaram's anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the High Court on Tuesday. The rejection of plea means custodial interrogation of Chidambaram can happen

Written By Navashree Nandini | Mumbai | Updated On:

P Chidamabaram's anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the High Court on August 20. The Delhi High Court on Tuesday denied bail plea to Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the INX media case. The rejection of plea means custodial interrogation of Chidambaram is likely to take place after ED gets the nod to arrest the Congress leader.

What is the INX media case?

P Chidamabaram and his son Karti Chidambaram has been allegedly involved in the INX Media Case. In May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate had lodged an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) - a police FIR equivalent - against junior Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, along with a couple of others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Based on the information provided by the ED, the CBI subsequently filed an FIR against the accused mentioned above, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media in 2007 for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore when Chidambaram was the finance minister.

READ: INX media case: Karti Chidambaram asked to vacate his Jor Bagh house by ED within 10 days
In March 2017, INX Media had approached the Chairman of FIPB seeking permission for issuing equity shares to three non-resident investors based in Mauritius though the foreign direct investment (FDI) route. This money, according to the FIR, was sought for creating and operating a number of television channels. The application to the FIPB also mentioned its intention to "make a downstream financial investment to the extent of 26 percent of the issued and outstanding equity share capital of INX News Private Limited".

READ: P Chidambaram concurs with these 3 announcements by PM Modi on Independence Day

P Chidambaram's lawyer demands delay:

After the court pronounced the order, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Chidambaram, sought a stay on the operation of the order for three days. The court said would consider the request will pass an order on it. Both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had opposed Chidambaram's plea. Both the agencies opposed the pleas on the ground that his custodial interrogation was required as he was evasive during questioning. Both the probe agencies had contended that during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister, FIPB clearance was granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007.

ED contended that the companies in which money was transferred are directly or indirectly controlled by Chidambaram's son, Karti, and they have a reason to believe that the FIPB approval was granted to INX Media on his son's intervention. Chidambaram's petition had said that though no summons had ever been served on him by the ED in this case, he had an apprehension of arrest in view of the summons issued to him by the CBI.

Role of P Chidambaram in the INX Media case:

A few months later, the FIPB board approved INX's proposal, specifically an FDI/NRI inflow of Rs 4.62 crore, but did not approve the proposed downstream investment. So the FIR primarily alleges that "INX Media deliberately and in violations of the conditions and approval" went ahead with the downstream investment and generated FDI exceeding Rs 305 crore in the company "by issuing shares to foreign investors at a premium of more than Rs 800 per share" between August 2007 and May 2008.
When the Income Tax department sought clarification on the above in February 2008, INX Media allegedly sought to wriggle out of the mess by offering kickbacks to former finance minister's Karti to leverage on his family name to scuttle the probe.

READ: INX Media case: PMLA authorities confirm ED order of attachment of properties
The CBI said that Karti had received funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh in the case - during its searches at the homes and offices of junior Chidambaram, sleuths reportedly recovered vouchers for this amount issued in favour of Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Limited, a firm "indirectly" owned by him. But some sections of the media are now reporting that there is new evidence that he had received a much fatter kickback.
The Chidambarams have predictably and vociferously denied all charges made against them, blaming it all on political vendetta. But compounding the family's misery is their involvement in the alleged irregularities in the grant of FIPB clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal back in 2006, another case being investigated by the CBI.

READ: Court reserves order on Indrani Mukerjee's plea to turn approver in INX media case

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