New Delhi: In a major political drama that played out on Wednesday evening, CBI and ED officials arrested former Union minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram from his Jorbagh residence in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.
Investigators accompanied by Delhi police arrived around 8.50 pm after Chidambaram’s sudden appearance at Congress headquarters.
The ED and CBI aim to expand the investigation to probe his granting of allegedly illegal FIPB clearances to other firms and receiving kickbacks through shell companies. Things might get somewhat tricky for the former finance minister as the jailed Indrani Mukerjea, one of the promoters of INX Media and co-accused in the money laundering case, has reportedly turned approver and given information about Chidamabaram’s alleged involvement in the case.
Chidambaram was taken to the CBI headquarters and is expected to be produced in the court on Thursday. The CBI is likely to put him through a lie detection test.
After Chidambaram’s arrest his anticipatory bail petition listed for hearing on Friday in Supreme court becomes infructuous and he will now have to apply for regular bail. This bail application will have to be heard by a trial court.
Jostling through the media, CBI officials had to scale the walls of Chidam-baram’s house as his staff refused to open the gates.
The huge team of officials and police took over the premises and allowed other security personnel in. The CBI then drove inside and later whisked the fugitive away around 9.45 pm.
As the CBI took Chidambaram into custody, sloganeering Congress workers arrived and a scuffle broke out. An unidentified person shouted “Chidambaram chor hain”, and was thrashed by Congress workers. Police rescued him from the mob.
Earlier, around 8 pm, Chidambaram dramatically entered the AICC to issue a statement claiming he was “aghast” to hear that he “was accused of hiding from the law.”
Desperate to put up a defence, Chidambaram claimed that neither he nor any of his family members have been charged by the investigating agencies of “any offense.”
Refuting charges that he had gone underground, Chidambaram claimed he was “working with lawyers to prepare his bail petition.”
Suggesting he should have been given a reprieve till his bail petition that was rejected by the High Court came up at the Supreme Court on Friday, Chidambaram said: “Until Friday and beyond, let’s hope the lamp of liberty will shine bright and illuminate the whole country.”
From a prepared statement he claimed: “I will respect law even if applied with an unequal hand by probe agencies.” He took no questions.
Chidambaram accompanied by Congress legal brains Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi left for his Jorbagh residence. Chidambaram was inside for nearly 50 minutes where he was grilled by at least six CBI officials.
Both Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal were with him till he was taken into custody.
After he was taken away, his son Karti Chidambaram in Chennai maintained that the “drama and spectacle being enacted by the agencies is to simply sensationalise and satisfy the voyeuristic pleasure of some.”...