CBI charges P Chidambaram, 13 others, in INX Media case
Congress leader and ex-Finance Minister P Chidambaram was among those named in the charge-sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the INX Media case on Friday. The CBI also charged Chidambaram's son, Karti. The charge-sheet comes just days after a Delhi court allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to quiz Chidambaram till October 24. His judicial custody was extended until the same date.
The charge-sheet was filed before Special Judge Lal Singh under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC. It names Peter Mukherjea; chartered accountant S Bhaskaraman; ex-NITI Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar; former secretary in Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Anup Pujari; Prabodh Saxena; Rabindra Prasad; INX Media; ASCL & Chess Management Services. The final report also names accused-turned-approver Indrani Mukerjea.
The matter will now be heard by Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar on October 21. Separately, later on Friday, the Supreme Court also reserved its order on Chidambaram's bail plea. The plea challenges an earlier Delhi High Court order denying him bail in the case.
Accusing Chidambaram of causing huge losses to the taxpayer in return of kickbacks, the CBI opposed the Congress leader's bail plea in the Supreme Court stating that he is a flight risk and could influence a witness. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, told the court that the identity of said witness has been confidentially submitted to the CBI court.
Meanwhile, Kapil Sibal, Chidambaram's legal counsel, argued in court that with Chidambaram's passport impounded and a lookout notice against him, who is well-recognized globally, there's no question of a flight risk. Seeking bail, Sibal also cited a fear of dengue and said Chidambaram has lost 4 kg in custody. Sibal said the CBI wants to humiliate Chidambaram and denied the allegation of influencing a witness.
To recall, Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21 over his alleged involvement in the INX Media case. He was questioned at the CBI headquarters for 14 days and then transferred to the Tihar jail under judicial custody on September 5. The ED arrested Chidamabaram from Tihar on Wednesday after interrogating him. The investigating agency is probing a separate money laundering case against him.
In May 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR, alleging irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to the INX Media group, during Chidambaram's tenure as FM. The clearance facilitated an influx of illicit foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the tune of Rs. 305 crore into INX Media group, co-founded by Indrani Mukerjea, Peter Mukerjea in 2007. Chidambaram's son Karti allegedly received kickbacks.