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ED takes big step to arrest Chidambaram in INX Media case, clears first hurdle

A special court in Delhi ordered Tihar jail to produce former finance minister P Chidambaram next week on a request by the Enforcement Directorate that told the judge that it wanted to arrest and grill him in the INX Media case.

Chidambaram was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 22 and sent to Tihar jail after the federal investigating agency questioned him for two weeks. He has been in jail since then.

In court on Friday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that Chidambaram needs to be taken into custody for his custodial interrogation to get details of shell companies in foreign countries and 17 bank accounts. Mehta, the Centre’s second most-senior law officer, also told the court that even the Supreme Court has observed that custodial interrogation is required in this case.

The ED request to seek Chidambaram’s custody comes days after the 74-year-old Congress veteran petitioned the Supreme Court to release him on bail in the CBI case. The top court had held one round of hearing before the court’s Dussehra break and has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday.

The ED move may imply that Chidambaram would remain in custody for now irrespective of how the court rules on his bail application in the case investigated by the CBI.

It is an eventuality that Chidambaram’s legal team had anticipated.

The Supreme Court had rejected Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail application in the ED case on September 5. When the agency didn’t make a move, Chidambaram’s lawyers at one point even asked the judge for orders for his arrest.

The INX Media case pertains to alleged irregularities in FIPB clearance granted to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard.

Chidambaram and his son have an arrest shield granted by a trial court in connection with their alleged role in a second case, Aircel Maxis case. This case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal when Chidambaram was finance minister.

First Published:
Oct 11, 2019 18:11 IST

Source: HindustanTimes