P Chidambaram – From Lawmaker to Law-Breaker to Law-Quasher

The many colourful hats that a colourful Chidambaram wears, sometimes to beat his own legislation!

The many colourful hats that a colourful Chidambaram wears, sometimes to beat his own legislation!
The many colourful hats that a colourful Chidambaram wears, sometimes to beat his own legislation!

Chidambaram’s money laundering saga

The waves of money laundering never bother to take any pause, unlike the havoc-causing pandemic that the world is suffering through nowadays. The menace of money laundering is traceable in almost all the countries in the world and its mechanism is so incognito that it becomes very tough to pinpoint its source and end as it gets channelized through different countries only to obscure its origin. INTERPOL’s definition of money laundering is: “any act or attempted act to conceal or disguise the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources”. The intention behind the act of money laundering is the intention to conceal money or other assets from the State so as to prevent its loss through taxation, judgment enforcement, or blatant confiscation. Simply, it can be defined as legitimizing illegitimate assets by circumventing the four corners of the law.

Of all the kinds of criminals who need to launder money, the powerful and corrupt politicians are the ones who are mostly untouched by the law enforcement departments. It is no secret that people who run the system are the ones to create, nourish and safeguard a corrupt system.

It is the same law that was brought into force by none other than Karti Chidambaram’s father P. Chidambaram.

In India, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, PMLA was although enacted in 2002, but came into force on 1st July 2005, when P Chidambaram was the finance minister of India under the UPA government, after extensive reading and understanding of the laws at hand. The Act was also amended for the very first time by Chidambaram too, in 2005 – The Lawmaker.

The time takes a poetic leap and in 2017, CBI registers a First Information Report (FIR) in INX media money laundering case alleging irregularities in FIPB clearance to the group for receiving overseas funds of Rs.305 crore in 2007. In 2018, ED lodges the money laundering case in this regard[1]. CBI again in 2018, names P Chidambaram and his son, Karti Chidambaram as accused in its supplementary charge-sheet in the Aircel-Maxis case[2], and on 21st August 2018, the Lawmaker gets arrested and spends 105 days in custody – The Law-Breaker.

The investigation against P. Chidambaram was headed by Dr. Rajeshwar Singh, Joint Director (Lucknow zone), ED. Later, Chidambaram accused him of targeting him and his son in a press conference.

Dr. Rajeshwar Singh was investigating the role of Karti Chidambaram in getting money from abroad in the garb of consultancy and not doing any work or having any expertise in giving consultancy and surprisingly, Karti Chidambaram didn’t even have a functional office for consultancy.

The ED and CBI have filed multiple charge sheets making P. Chidambaram and his son, accused in different cases related to money laundering. The house, 115-A, Block 172, Jor Bagh, co-owned by Karti Chidambaram was attached by the agency on October 10, 2018, claiming that it was ‘acquired from proceeds of crime’ involving the INX media case. The attachment order was confirmed by the PMLA adjudicating authority in March 2019. Similarly, the investigating agencies have seized assets worth approximately over Rs.60 crores related to Chidambaram and his son. Karti Chidambaram’s assets in UK and Spain in connection with the INX Media money laundering case have also been attached in 2018[3].

It is very evident by the facts at hand that there is a certain tussle going on within the Chidambaram family. In a recent development, Karti Chidambaram has challenged the constitutional validity of the PMLA, by calling it arbitrary and coercive. It is the same law that was brought into force by none other than Karti Chidambaram’s father P. Chidambaram. What is more interesting to note here is that Junior Chidambaram along with Senior Chidambaram is accused in multiple money laundering cases under the same PMLA, which they are trying to prove unconstitutional in the court of law.

Ironically, the former Union Minister who brought the PMLA in force and also amended the said law for the first time in 2005, is now pursuing a case in advancing the argument where the SC will finally decide on issues relating to the Enforcement Directorate’s powers to launch probes, arrest, and seize evidence. The verdict in the case will affect the contours of the powers of the ED, DRI, Customs, and other agencies and will affect the established laws under PMLA. Interestingly, a man who is accused under the above-said law is now arguing against the same law and is hell-bent on proving the laws to be unconstitutional – The Law-Quasher.

Tragically, both the money laundering accused duo of father and son are lawmakers in today’s date in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively.

It is sad to conclude that a man’s necessity to hide his dark deeds can make him do anything and everything, like in the case of P. Chidambaram, Chidambaram – the Lawmaker, the father and the nourisher of the money laundering law (PMLA) in the country is now ready to argue the constitutionality of the same law and that also not for the sake of justice but only to save his and his son’s skin.

The laundered money can be traced back but one wonders where does the integrity of a man gets laundered when he accepts to compromise with the law of the land. God Bless India.

In a detailed hearing on 26th July 2021, the special bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Krishna Murari, and V Ramasubramaniam took note of a series of issues that have been raised in these cases. Accordingly, the matter is scheduled to be heard by the hon’ble bench on the 3rd of August.


[1] INX Media bribery case: ED charge sheets Chidambaram and Karti for money launderingJun 03, 2020, PGurus.com

[2] Aircel-Maxis scam: ED moves Delhi HC challenging anticipatory bail to Chidambaram & Karti given by controversial Judge OP SainiOct 11, 2019, PGurus.com

[3] ED attaches Rs.54 crores worth assets of Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media bribery caseOct 11, 2018, PGurus.com

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  1. The most unfortunate part is that the judiciary and the legislator is unable to come to gather to address the very basic issue of delays in dispensing justice to the people. Are we so insensitive to the fact that the delays only benefit the accused. The thousands of crores robbed from the public money amounts to indirect murder of the rightful beneficiaries in different forms.
    The number of legislators with accusation of financial wrong doing will never support such attempt, can the judiciary at least on its own not act. The hot shot legal eagles who are also getting into the legislature are even bigger impediment, who excel in the art of creating delays. Challenging every thing from FIR stage trail is stalled and delays till the accuse dies and his inheritors live off the stolen money.


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