Thursday, 01 March 2018 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi-
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested former Finance Minister P Chidam-baram’s son Karti from Chennai airport in the INX Media bribery case. The agency sleuths whisked away Karti when he landed at the airport from a British Airways flight from London.
Karti was taken into custody by CBI officials of Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch from the Immigration Counter at 6.45 am and airlifted to Delhi to produce before the Patiala House Courts in the evening. Karti was sent to CBI custody for a day by duty Judge Sumit Anand. He would be produced before Judge Sunil Rana,
who is hearing the INX Media case, on Thursday. Now, the CBI and the ED are expected to summon P Chidambaram in the case.
Meanwhile, the Congress dubbed the arrest of Karti a “diversionary tactic” by the Government to hide its scams and said “vendetta” would not deter the party from speaking the truth. Several Congress leaders, including the party’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala, Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, spoke out against Karti’s arrest.
Terming the arrest “malafide”, Sibal said it is done to harass P Chidambaram. “This is complete vendetta politics, this is completely malafide,” he said challenging the agencies to produce evidence against Karti.
“They are always misusing the law,” he added.
Arguing before Judge Sumit Anand, the CBI sought 15-day custody of Karti, citing his non-cooperation with agencies for the past one year in the INX Media case. The CBI’s counsel also told the court that Indrani has confessed to giving one million dollar bribe to Karti in 2007 to get
FIPB clearance from Chidambaram for foreign investment in INX Media.
After the ED arrested Chidambaram family’s Chartered Accountant Bhaskar Raman two weeks ago, Karti’s arrest looked inevitable. Apprehending his son’s arrest, P Chidambaram had moved the Supreme Court and alleged that he is being hounded by the CBI and the ED in Aircel-Maxis and INX Media cases as part of political vendetta.
In the 26-page petition, Chidambaram argued that he deserves right of privacy, protection from witch-hunting and other fundamental rights. The case is yet not listed as the Registry found many faults in the petition. It is learned that SC Registry has asked Chidambaram for certain rectifications in the petition. Karti also filed similar petition against the agencies. The Supreme Court has not given any relief and posted it for next hearing on March 6.
Hearing of his son’s arrest, Chidambaram who landed at Heathrow airport in London on Wednesday afternoon cancelled his programmes in Oxford and returned to India.
Karti’s mother and lawyer Nalini Chidambaram also rushed to Delhi and was coordinating with a battery of lawyers led by Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
While entering the Patiala House Courts, Karti told reporters that his arrest was “absolutely political vendetta”. At one point sitting in the court with his mother, Karti was heard telling that “he should not have returned to India” since the CBI and the ED are playing in the hands of political bosses. His mother reportedly asked Karti to avoid making such statements inside the court room.
In their FIRs, the CBI and the ED accused Karti of accepting bribe around Rs 5 crore from INX Media promoters Peter and Indrani Mukerjeas. In 2007, the INX Media got FIPB clearance to bring just Rs 5 crore as FDI. But the company illegally brought in Rs 306 crore through tax havens — including Mauritius, said the agencies. Chidambaram has been accused of giving post factor clearance for the enhanced investment as the head of the FIPB.
The agencies in their chargesheets said that Chidambaram dishonestly and illegally approved the FIPB’s post facto clearance to save Peter and Indrani from Income Tax’s huge penalty.
According to investigators, Indrani has confessed that her first meeting with Karti took place in Delhi’s Hyatt Hotel where he agreed to do the “favour” for a kick back of one million dollars. It is learned that Indrani and Peter also met Chidambaram later. The amount was transferred to Karti’s firms — Chess Management Services and Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited.
The INX Media scam was unearthed during the joint raid of ED and Income Tax department in December 2015 at Karti’s companies in connection with Aircel-Maxis scam. The investigators seized a hard disk from the Karti’s firms, unearthing details of the family’s properties and hotels and farmhouses in 14 countries and 21 undeclared foreign bank accounts.