New Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram was arrested and rushed to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters late on Wednesday evening over graft charges related to INX media case. Teams of CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had scaled the boundary wall of Chidambaram’s Jor Bagh residence to get in soon after the senior Congress leader reached home after addressing the press at the AICC headquarters. (Also read: ‘Truth is Inconvenient to Cowards,’ Tweets Priyanka in Chidambaram’s Support)
A team of about 30 CBI sleuths accompanied by Delhi police officials were present at his residence for over an hour and Chidambaram was finally whisked away even as Congress workers reportedly staged a protest outside. Later, CBI sources said that Chidambaram had been arrested on a warrant issued by a competent court.
He will most likely be produced in Rouse Avenue Court on Thursday morning, reported ANI. Reports said he would be produced before Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar who hears cases pertaining to MLAs and MPs.
Chidambaram’s detention comes almost 48 hours after his bail plea was rejected. Both the ED and the CBI had issued lookout notices for the senior Congress leader.
The Supreme Court also refused to hear the matter of his anticipatory bail after much drama throughout the day. First, it pointed out that Chidambaram’s petition was marked under the ‘defective list’. The court refused to hear it and said CJI Ranjan Gogoi would take a call on it once an error-free petition was filed instead. Since Gogoi was busy with Ayodhya case hearing, the court could hear the plea only later in the evening.
Then, Gogoi set Friday for hearing in Chidambaram’s plea seeking protection from arrest by either the ED or the CBI. Yet later in the evening, Chidambaram, who had been untraceable since his bail plea was rejected on Tuesday, appeared at the AICC headquarters for a press conference where he sought to explain his stance.
He said, “Between now and Friday, I will walk with a clear conscience and my head held high. I will also pray that the investigative agencies will also follow the law. I shall respect the law even if it applied with an uneven hand.”
He pointed out how he had had interim protection for 18 months and “after seven months, the Delhi High Court cancelled my interim bail. No chargesheet has been filed against me in the INX Media case.”
Explaining his going incommunicado, Chidambaram said, “I was working alongside my lawyers all night. I was accused of running away but on the contrary, I was engaged in the pursuit of justice. I bow down to the orders of the SC and between now and Friday, I shall respect the law even if it’s applied unequally by investigating agencies.”
Later, on his arrest, his son Karti tweeted, “The drama and spectacle being enacted by the agencies is to simply sensationalise and satisfy the voyeuristic pleasure of some (sic).”
On being asked who he thought was behind this, Karti, in Chennai, said, “Yes, of course, all of this is being done by BJP. Who else? You think Donald Trump? No.”
What is INX Media Case:
The case is related to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to media group INX Media receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 307 crore during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
In January 2008, the Finance Ministry, then under Chidambaram, flagged a foreign direct investment (FDI) of over Rs 305 crore by three Mauritius-based companies in INX Media Pvt Ltd, then owned by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. The Income Tax department handed over the case to the ED, which in 2010 registered a case against INX Media for alleged Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations.
Around six years later, while investigating a company associated with Karti, ED found documents linked to INX Media. The documents indicated payments were made to Karti’s company by INX Media at the time the finance ministry granted it FIPB approval. The CBI then registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance, and ED lodged a money laundering case in 2018.