Chidambaram advice to CBI: Follow conscience
Unruffled by questions, former finance minister P. Chidambaram has been telling his CBI investigators to follow their “conscience” instead of giving in any political conspiracy, sources in the agency said on Friday.
An officer who is part of the team interrogating Chidambaram told The Telegraph that the Congress leader had categorically denied the allegations against him during questioning over the past two days.
“My record is clear, so is my conscience. I know you are doing your duty but please do it with conscience and freedom. Listen to your conscience and don’t fall victim to any political conspiracy,” he quoted Chidambaram, a seasoned lawyer, as saying.
The senior Congress leader, the officer said, had repeated the advice several times when confronted with questions related to the INX Media case.
A Delhi court on Thursday sent Chidambaram, who was arrested on Wednesday night amidst high drama when CBI officers scaled a wall to enter his south Delhi residence, to the CBI’s custody till August 26.
The case relates to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) granting FDI clearance worth Rs 305 crore to INX Media in 2007 when Chidambaram was finance minister.
“During the questioning, he has remained evasive and denied any wrongdoing. Instead, he asked us why he had been arrested when there was no FIR against him,” the officer said.
On being asked why FIPB sanction was granted to INX Media during his tenure as finance minister, Chidambaram reportedly told the investigators that go ahead had been given to several companies. “He told us that FIPB sanction was given to INX Media and other companies and it had the consent of secretary-level officials,” the officer said.
Two other CBI officers who spoke to this newspaper said some top members of the agency were attending the questioning to help the interrogating team as Chidambaram was a “very learned person and one of the sharpest legal minds”.
“He answers some of our queries and remains silent when he chooses to. At times, he poses some questions to us too. He has been evasive to some of our questions and we hope he cooperates in the next two days,” the officer said.
The CBI sources said the case against Chidambaram and his son Karti had been built on the statement of Indrani Mukerjea, wife of former media baron Peter Mukerjea.
Indrani, in jail for allegedly murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, has turned approver in the case.
Another CBI officer said Chidambaram, during his tenure as finance minister, had allegedly facilitated a huge transfusion of foreign funds for INX Media, and Karti had allegedly received kickbacks for the deal.
Karti, who was named in the FIR registered by the agency in May 2017, was arrested by the CBI last year and is now out on bail.
“We are interrogating him (Chidambaram) to establish evidence about the money trail as the probe has revealed that he played an effective and informed role in the entire conspiracy,” the officer said.
Chidambaram has been kept in Suite 5 of the guesthouse on the ground floor of the 11-storey centrally air-conditioned CBI headquarters on Lodhi Road. The room has CCTV cameras and agency officials have been constantly monitoring him.
“He is a high-profile accused and instead of keeping him in a lock-up, he has been kept in the guesthouse to ensure proper security and monitoring,” an officer said.
The room has a TV. “He is being served food of his choice. He is taken to a bigger room for questioning,” the officer said.
The cafeteria on the ground floor is closed since Thursday morning and the daily media briefings are being held there as security has been beefed up inside and outside the building.