New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Thursday, has secured four-day custody of former union minister P Chidambaram till August 26 in the alleged INX Media scam case.
The senior Congress leader was interrogated for three hours today at the CBI headquarters on Thursday. He was produced in a CBI court in the national capital today.
The court has ordered that Chidambaram would be subjected to medical examination every 48 hours. Also, his family members and lawyers would be allowed to meet him during his custody.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who argued for the CBI, had moved an application seeking 5-day custody of Chidambaram.
Chidambaram's lawyers had pleaded for bail stating that he would appear whenever summoned by the investigative agency.
Mehta argued that custodial interrogation of the Congress leader was required as the former Finance Minister was "evasive" and "non-cooperative" in the investigation.
Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar heard the arguments of the CBI and Chidambaram's counsels.
Tomorrow, a Supreme Court bench of Justice R Banumathi and Justice A S Bopanna will hear pleas filed by Chidambaram against the Delhi High Court’s order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea in cases of CBI and ED.
Drawing attention to the "enormity and gravity" of the offence, the CBI pointed out that the Delhi High Court rejected the former minister's pre-arrest bail. The agency argued that serious offence of money laundering of monumental magnitude won't be unearthed unless custodial interrogation is given.
Chidambaram was represented by senior advocate and fellow party member Kapil Sibal who argued that the former finance and home minister was summoned once and he complied. “How can he be accused of non-cooperation?” Sibal asked.
"This case is completely based on a case diary and a statement of another accused," senior advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. Singhvi said that Chidambaram was first called in June 2018 after Indrani Mukerjea recorded her statement.
Mukerjea is the wife of Peter Mukerjea who owned INX Media, the television company which is under scanner for the alleged scam. The couple has accused Chidambaram and his son Karti for clearing foreign funds.
"For the last one year, no summons but now they (the CBI) want custody. Indrani has turned approver now based on her 2018 statement. To create a reason for custody of my client, she has been made approver stating new facts have emerged. Is approver an evidence? Can that be the basis for his arrest and now custody," he said.
Chidambaram was arrested on Wednesday night from his South Delhi house by CBI officials. He was accommodated in “ Lock-up suite 5” in the CBI guest house which was inaugurated by Chidamabaram in 2010 when he was the Minister of Home Affairs.
Chidambaram is accused of facilitating foreign investment in INX Media in 2007 in his capacity of the finance minister. He also headed the Foreign Investment Promotion Board which allowed the clearances of foreign funds.
The former finance minister has denied the allegations calling them political witch-hunt by the BJP government.
Karti Chidambaram arrived in Delhi this morning and told reporters at the airport: "They don't have a case. My father's arrest is an attempt to silence the most vocal critic of the government."
Chidambaram was arrested on Wednesday night after his brief press conference at Congress headquarters. His lawyers contemplated the entire day to convince the Supreme Court for interim protection. The apex court decided to hear the case on Friday.
"I was aghast that I was accused of hiding from the law...On the contrary, I was engaged in the pursuit of justice," said Chidambaram at the press conference.
"Between now and Friday I shall walk with a clear conscience and my head held high. I shall respect the law, even if it is applied with an unequal hand by investigating agencies," the Congress leader read out from a statement.
Chidambaram drove to his home along with Sibal and Singhvi from where he was arrested by the CBI following some scuffle between Congress supporters and Delhi police.
The senior Congress leader had been granted interim relief from the arrest last year. On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court denied any further protection, referring to the "magnitude and enormity" of the charges and calling him the "kingpin".
After the High Court ruling, Chidambaram was not found at his home, prompting the investigation agencies to put out two lookout circulars -- meant to stop a person from leaving the country.
In his petition before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the former minister argued that his antecedents are "impeccable" and there is no possibility of him "fleeing from justice". His petition, however, was not heard on technical grounds.
The Congress party has put its support behind its senior leader with Rahul Gandhi called the investigative agencies’ endeavour of Chidambaram a “disgraceful misuse of power” and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra saying the former minister was being “shamefully hunted down”.