The fast track trial court on Monday took cognizance of the charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the INX Media bribery case against former Finance and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and 13 others, who are accused of various offences, including those under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar had ordered the production of Chidambaram on October 24 and summoned the other accused including son Karti Chidambaram on November 29.
During the brief argument, the CBI explained the role of Chidambaram and officials in the Finance Ministry in illegally approving Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media and saving them from the Income Tax prosecution. The Prosecutors also explained about the money trail from INX Media to Karti’s firms and said that the investigation in this regard is still on and that a Supplementary Charge sheet may be filed.
The Chargesheet is filed under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), read with 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) of IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, including section 9 (taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant).
Before taking cognizance, Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar put various queries to the CBI including who were cheated. “The Government was cheated,” Advocate Padmini Singh, appearing for the probe agency, said, adding that the requisite sanctions were received to prosecute the accused persons.
The court took cognizance of the report and directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is currently interrogating P Chidambaram in its custody in a related money laundering case, to produce him before it on October 24, when the 74-years old’s custody is scheduled to end.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s Bench headed by Justice Banumathi will deliver judgment on Chidambaram’s bail petition in the CBI case on Tuesday, Oct 22. As the former Minister is currently in ED’s custody, getting free from jail is not possible now, even if the apex court gave favorable orders.
Besides Karti and Peter Mukerjea, who are currently on bail, and chartered accountant S Bhaskaraman, who is currently on anticipatory bail in the case, the court also summoned others, including various former and current public servants.
Those summoned include Sindhushree Khullar, the then additional secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA); Ajeet Kumar Dungdung, the then section officer of FIPB unit (MoF); Rabindra Prasad, the then undersecretary of FIPB unit; Pradeep Kumar Bagga, the then OSD, DEA; Prabodh Saxena, Director of FIPB Unit and Anup K Pujari, the then Joint Secretary (Foreign Trade) in the DEA.
The court also summoned INX Media Pvt. Ltd., presently 9X Media Pvt. Ltd.; INX News Pvt. Ltd., presently Direct News; Chess Management Services Pvt. Ltd. and Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd. (ASCPL) through their representatives.
The Chargesheet is filed under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), read with 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) of IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, including section 9 (taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant). The maximum punishment for these offences is seven years.
This is the third charge sheet against Chidambaram. Earlier he was charge-sheeted by the CBI and the ED in the Aircel-Maxis scam along with son Karti. Chidambaram was arrested by CBI two months ago on August 21.
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