The crooked former Finance Minister P Chidambaram is on the run. Hours after Chidambaram was granted protection from any coercive action, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday pressed for his custodial interrogation in the INX Media bribe, saying that it was necessary as he has remained evasive and non-cooperative during questioning. The probe agency made the submission in an affidavit filed before Justice A K Pathak, who listed the matter for hearing on August 1 and extended till then the interim protection against arrest granted to Chidambaram on May 31.
Demanding the rejection of the application for anticipatory bail, CBI said that after getting temporary anticipatory bail on May 31, Chidambaram was evasive and did not reply to any questions during the June 3 interrogation. The CBI, represented by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said in its affidavit that despite there being “cogent and convincing material on record” based on which questions were put to the former tainted union minister, he “chose to remain evasive and did not cooperate with the investigating agency”.
“The material collected so far and the intensity and the gravity of the offence which is unfolding, requires custodial interrogation of the petitioner (Chidambaram) which is quantitatively different. The investigating agency has reached bona fide conclusion that in the absence of custodial interrogation, it will not be possible to reach the truth of the allegations as the petitioner has chosen to be evasive and non-cooperative,” the agency has said while seeking dismissal of Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea.
Chidambaram had on May 30 moved a trial court for protection from arrest in the Aircel-Maxis case of the Enforcement Directorate before approaching the high court in connection with the INX Media case.
What is INX Media bribe case?
The INX media bribe case was exposed by the joint raid of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department in December 2015 at son Karti’s firms and homes in connection with Aircel-Maxis scam probe. The raid was led by ED’s Investigating Officer Rajeshwar Singh, which exposed the Chidambaram families illegal assets in 14 countries, 21 foreign bank accounts and other illegalities committed by Chidambaram in FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approvals and son Karti benefitting. The ED and IT promptly reported the matter to CBI and other agencies.
The INX Media in 2006 was owned by the now jailed promoters Peter and his wife Indrani Mukerjea. They got only FIPB clearance to bring Rs.5 crores from abroad. But they illegally channeled more than Rs.305 crores and Income Tax issued summons to them. From saving Income Tax action, they met Chidambaram and Karti and Karti’s firm’s got around Rs.5 crores as kickback to gave an illegal post-facto clearance for the dubious routing of Rs.305 crores. Indrani and Peter have confessed to investigators how father and son pressured them and took bribe.
Now Karti, Peter and Indrani are accused in this open-and-shut case of bribery and Chidambaram is soon expected to join their league. The ED also registered a case on INX Media bribery under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.