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CBI charges PC, son on no-trust eve

P Chidambaram (right) with his son Karti at a news conference in Chennai on October 31, 2014. (PTI)

New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday named senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram as an accused in the Aircel-Maxis case, a day before the Opposition moves a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government.

In its supplementary chargesheet filed before a Delhi court, the CBI named Chidambaram, his son Karti and 16 others including some government officials, both serving and retired. The court fixed July 31 as the date for considering the chargesheet.

Terming the CBI's allegations "preposterous", former finance minister Chidambaram said the agency had been "pressured" to file the chargesheet.

"CBI has been pressured to file a chargesheet to support a preposterous allegation against me and officers with a sterling reputation. The case is now before the Hon'ble Court and it will be contested vigorously. I shall make no more public comment," he tweeted.

Earlier Chidambaram had alleged a "witch hunt" and accused the Modi government of using the CBI and other agencies to silence him.

Chidambaram's role is being probed by multiple agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the Rs 305-crore INX Media case. The two cases pertain to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance when he was finance minister.

Legal experts said the court would examine the chargesheet and take a decision on whether to take cognisance or not. If it takes cognisance, the court will issue summons to the accused seeking their replies.

"Based on their replies and the material evidence furnished by the CBI, the court will decide whether the case is fit for trial or not. If it is not satisfied with the evidence the court can discharge the accused even before the commencement of the trial," said trial court lawyerM.S. Khan.

Last week, the trial court had extended Chidambaram and Karti's protection from arrest till August 7.

The CBI had filed the first chargesheet in the Aircel-Maxis case in 2014 against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi and others and alleged that Chidambaram had granted FIPB approval in March 2006 to the Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis.

The agency is probing how Chidambaram, who was the Union finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm when only the cabinet panel on economic affairs was empowered to do so.

A trial in Delhi had in February last year dropped corruption charges against the Maran brothers, saying the evidence placed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate was not sufficient to prosecute them.

The CBI had alleged that Dayanidhi as UPA-I telecom minister had forced Aircel owner Sivasankaran to sell his stake to Maxis owner T. Ananda Krishnan. Later, in a quid-pro-quo arrangement, Maxis had invested Rs 650 crore in Sun TV network, run by the Marans.

In December last year a trial court had acquitted former telecom minister A. Raja and other accused of all charges in the so-called 2G spectrum scandal and punched holes in the CBI's investigations, saying a "huge scam was seen where there was none".

In May last year the CBI had registered an FIR against Karti alleging INX Media had received Rs 305 crore in foreign direct investment although it had clearance to receive only Rs 4.62 crore. A bribe was allegedly paid to Karti for obtaining FIPB clearance for the media house in 2007 when Chidambaram was Union finance minister.

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