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Chidambaram in CBI custody till August 30

Probe agency says there was sufficient ground for extension of custodial interrogation as Chidambaram was confronted with a co-accused from August 23-26
P. Chidambaram

The Telegraph   |   New Delhi   |   Published 26.08.19, 01:38 PM

Congress leader P. Chidambaram will face further custodial interrogation for four days by the CBI in the INX Media case as a Delhi special court Monday sent him to the agency's custody till August 30.

Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar said the CBI's demand was 'justified' that Chidambaram has to be questioned more in its custody.

'Investigation is the prerogative of the investigating officer which he has to conduct within the framework of law.... I am of the view that further police custody remand of accused P. Chidambaram is justified and accordingly, the accused is remanded to further police custody till August 30,' the judge said.

The Congress leader was produced in court on expiry of his four-day CBI custody which was granted to the agency on August 22.

The CBI sought extension of Chidambaram's custody by five days to confront him with certain e-mails and to unearth larger conspiracy.

Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta and additional solicitor-general K.N. Nataraj, representing the CBI, said there was sufficient ground for extension of Chidambaram's custodial interrogation as he was confronted with a co-accused from August 23-26.

The confrontation with the co-accused is not complete, the prosecutors said, and placed before the court a file containing email exchanges between the accused.

He was produced in the trial court, hours after the Supreme Court refused to entertain his plea challenging the Delhi High Court order which had dismissed his anticipatory bail plea in the corruption case lodged by the CBI.

'We need five days of custody of Chidambaram as the confrontation with the co-accused will continue to unearth larger conspiracy,' Mehta said.

He said investigation of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is going on simultaneously and CBI has received information from it.

On being asked by the judge as to what CBI has done in last four days, the agency placed before the court some records.

The solicitor-general said it was necessary to confront Chidambaram with regard to relevant e-mails and it was absolutely relevant to go into the root of the issue. 'Certain documents and evidence have emerged which need to be confronted and probed,' he said.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, opposed Mehta referring to the documents filed by the ED.

After speaking to Chidambaram for two minutes, Sibal said in the previous remand application, there was a mention of $5 million and not a single document was put to him during these four days.

He said not a single question with regard to shell companies as also bank accounts had been put to Chidambaram.

'There has been 26 hours of questioning. Still nothing asked on all these issues,' he said, adding that he wants the CBI to put correct facts before the court. 'At least the process of investigation should be fair,' Sibal said, maintaining that the agency should show the documents in the court.

'There is prima facie evidence to link the accused with $5-million. We are awaiting response on LRs from the five countries,' Mehta told the court.

Letters rogator or LRs are a formal requests from a court to a foreign court for certain judicial assistance.

Chidambaram's wife Nalini and son Karti are also present in the court.

Chidambaram, 73, who was Union home minister and finance minister during UPA rule from 2004 to 2014, was arrested by the CBI on August 21 from his Jor Bagh residence. He was earlier produced before the court on August 22 and was remanded in four-day CBI custody.

The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister.

Thereafter, the Enforcement Directorate lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.


Written with PTI inputs

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