On Thursday, the Supreme Court extended by three months the deadline given to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to complete the probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal case. This was based on ED’s petition pointing out that the agency wanted custodial interrogation of the main accused, former Finance Minister’s son Karti Chidambaram, who is evasive after getting interim protection from the trial court.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the probe should be completed in three months. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, said the agency needs some two-three months to complete the probe as it needs to confront some accused with several e-mails. ED has already filed a charge sheet against Karti and is expected to file a supplementary charge sheet against the main scamster Palaniappan Chidambaram.
ED has already approached the trial court of Special Judge O P Saini for cancellation of Karti’s interim bail. Further hearing on this regard is posted for September 25. ED in its petition and in the arguments pointed out that the investigators need Karti’s custodial interrogation as he is evasive on the documents of money trail of his own bank accounts and emails by him to other accused regarding money transactions.
Karti allowed to travel to London
On Wednesday, Supreme Court allowed Karti to go to London between September 20 and September 30. Now after Supreme Court has extended three months to finish the probe, ED is expected pursue its demand for custodial interrogation.
In the petition, ED said that Karti is arguing his “right of silence” during questioning. “Though the accused (Karti) did appear at times when called for investigation, each time he hindered the completion of the investigation and used to leave mid-way while intimating that he would not be able to appear for about a week. The said modus operandi was essentially to consult lawyers and tailor made answers to questions asked on the earlier date of examination, thus not revealing complete facts and also delaying the investigation,” said ED demanding custodial interrogation of Karti.
“Whenever he was confronted with the documents, he showed his irritation, sometimes anger and then conveniently avoided to answer the questions on one pretext or the other,” said ED narrating the tantrums and tricks played by Karti due to interim protection from arrest granted by Judge O P Saini. In both trial court and Supreme Court, the agency said that Karti is playing with the time and trying to avoid custodial interrogation, as he availed interim protection.
Chidambaram and Karti were playing all kinds of dirty tricks to arm-twist the officers involved in the Aircel-Maxis probe. For the past two years they were unleashing several frivolous petitions through their benami operators against ED’s Joint Director and Investigating officer Rajeshwar Singh.
CBI yet to get approval for go-ahead
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is yet to get the Sanction for Prosecution from Government for the four accused officers in the Aircel-Maxis scam. CBI is supposed to produce the Sanction for Prosecution by October. Still the files regarding this have not yet been processed from the Government’s side.
Former Finance Secretaries Ashok Jha and Ashok Chawla ware accused along with Chidambaram for the violations in the dubious approval of Aircel-Maxis deal. Serving IAS officers Kumar Sanjay Krishnan and Deepak Kumar Singh, then working in Finance Ministry were also accused by CBI. For the beginning of the judicial process against Chidambaram, the Sanction for Prosecution for these four IAS offices is needed for the CBI.