June 10, 2023

Just two days before the judicial custody of former finance minister P Chidambaram was set to expire in the INX Media money laundering case filed by the CBI, a Delhi court on Tuesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate to arrest him and take him into custody.

Special CBI judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar allowed the ED to go to Tihar Jail and interrogate Chidambaram on Wednesday, and arrest him, if required. “It’s not of the dignity of this person that you interrogate and arrest him here in public view,” the court said.

Chidambaram was remanded to judicial custody till October 17 in the INX Media corruption case filed by the CBI. The special court on October 3 extended the judicial custody of Chidambaram till October 17 in the case filed by the CBI.

The 74-year-old has been in Delhi’s Tihar jail since September 5, after the CBI finished questioning him in the case. He was first taken into custody on August 21.

Seeking Chidambaram’s arrest, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED had told special judge Kuhar that there is a finding by the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of Chidambaram is necessary.

The plea was vehemently opposed by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, who said that the CBI has already taken remand and ED has no ground since the offence is same.

He submitted that the first information report (FIR) was registered by CBI and ECIR was registered by Enforcement Directorate (ED) are based on the same transaction. As long as the transaction is same, the offences may be different, there cannot be an extension of remand beyond a period of 15 days.

“CBI has already sought his custody for investigating payment and companies abroad, which the ED wants to probe now,” he argued.

Mehta, on the other hand, said that money laundering is a separate offence and moved an application for Chidambaram’s arrest and remand.

The CBI had registered an FIR for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX media in May 2017 for receiving overseas funds to the tune of ₹305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering cases against him.

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