Karti in CBI custody for 3 more days, gets protection from ED arrest
New Delhi: The CBI on Friday got a court permission to question Karti Chidambaram for three more days even as the Delhi High Court gave him interim protection from being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a case relating to alleged kickbacks in getting foreign investment clearances to private companies when his father P. Chidambaram was the Finance Minister.
Judge Sunil Rana of a special court allowed the CBI to quiz the 46-year-old businessman till March 12 after the agency sought extension of his custody for six more days. Karti Chidambaram is being interrogated by the CBI since his February 28 arrest.
The CBI said it had found “new incriminating documents” to prove that Karti Chidambaram got kickbacks to get foreign investment clearance.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the special court that the CBI had recovered evidence to prove that Karti Chidambaram had direct links with Advantage Strategic, which allegedly received lakhs of rupees for facilitating Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approvals for INX Media and Aircel companies.
“So we need six more days of police custody.”
Defence lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi opposed the CBI plea, mocking at the agency for its failure to locate the well-known registered office address of Advantage Strategic in Nungambakkam High Road in Chennai.
“For one year, the CBI cannot find the registered office. Anyone can Google about it. It is tragic as well as comic for me.”
Mehta countered Singhvi and said some documents had been shifted from the Chennai office location. The CBI raided the location on a tip off on March 7 and 8 and several documents were recovered, he said.
The CBI alleges that Karti Chidambaram received kickbacks in the clearance of foreign investment worth Rs 305 crore for INX Media — owned by jailed media executives Peter and Indrani Mukherjea.
It said it had a recorded statement of Indrani Mukherjea accusing Karti Chidambaram of demanding and receiving a bribe to get the FIPB clearance.
Karti Chidambaram was confronted with Indrani Mukherjea in Mumbai last week.
On Friday, the CBI moved two more applications, seeking court permission to confront Karti Chidambaram with his Chartered Accountant S. Bhaskararaman, arrested last month. The second is to allow the CBI to bring the Mukherjeas to Delhi from Mumbai and identify the places where they met Kartik Chidambaram.
Extending Karti Chidambaram’s custody, the court told the CBI to confront him with the Chartered Accountant at Tihar Jail.
Singhvi also told the court that Karti Chidambaram’s blood pressure levels were fluctuating as he was not allowed to sleep as four guards keep playing cards till 2.30 a.m. each night.
“On March 7, his blood pressure was 140/90 while on March 8 it was 150/100.”
In a related development, the Delhi High Court gave a major relief to Karti Chidambaram, directing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is separately probing the allegations, not to arrest him till till the next hearing of the case on March 20.
The interim relief from “any coercive action” taken by the ED came a day after the Supreme Court transferred to the Delhi High Court his plea seeking quashing of summons issued by the probe agency.
A High Court bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S. Mehta, however, directed the businessman to cooperate in the investigation, appear before the ED whenever required and submit his passport.
Defence counsels Kapil Sibal and Singhvi told the court that they apprehended sequential arrests of their client by the ED after he was freed from the custody of the CBI.