Chidambaram's CBI custody extended by 4 days: Details here
On Monday, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram suffered a series of setbacks. Firstly, the Supreme Court dismissed his plea seeking anticipatory bail and called it "infructuous" (meaning unnecessary), considering he has already been arrested by CBI. Further, his petition challenging the CBI custody wasn't listed for a hearing, either. And in yet another bad news, a special court extended his CBI custody till August 30.
For the uninitiated, Chidambaram is being investigated for his alleged involvement in the INX Media case. During the hearing related to ED's case, his representative, Congress leader Kapil Sibal claimed that agency submitted documents in Delhi High Court (which rejected anticipatory bail plea) in a sealed cover. The top court extended his protection from arrest by ED till Tuesday, but it is immaterial now.
Chidambaram is accused of facilitating illegal FDI into INX Media, a company started by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, when he was FM in UPA-era. His son, Karti, allegedly received kickbacks for the deal. To recall, while rejecting his anticipatory bail plea, Delhi HC called Chidambaram the scandal's "kingpin". Initially, Chidambaram went "missing", but appeared at Congress HQ and was arrested after a high-voltage drama.
Given Chidambaram's political stature, his arrest was bound to become a big deal. Sibal defended his party colleague fiercely in the top court and even accused ED of leaking counter-affidavit to media. But the agency's representative, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said nothing of this sort happened and that Sibal was making a "political speech". "It's no political speech, you leaked affidavit to media," Sibal countered.
Not stopping at that, Sibal asked if agencies had the documents, why wasn't Chidambaram "confronted". "Why did they pass the documents to Delhi High Court judge in sealed covers? This is a media trial," the senior lawyer said. Raising questions on CBI's interrogation, Sibal said the premier investigative agency asked ridiculous questions to Chidambaram in over 26 hours of examination.
Kapil Sibal in Supreme Court: CBI asking Chidambaram, do you have Twitter account?.. What kind of questions are being asked? 26 hours of examination and nothing (documents) has been put to him.— ANI (@ANI) August 26, 2019
To note, Sibal had concerns over what was reported in media about the high-profile arrest. This morning, Indian Express published a report suggesting ED will apprise the top court about off-shore properties of Chidambaram and "his co-conspirators". These properties are spread across Argentina, Austria, British Virgin Island, France, Greece, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, and Sri Lanka, the report added.
Referring to the media reports, Sibal hurled a challenge at ED, asking it to show just one off-shore account or property linked to Chidambaram. He also said documents were submitted in a sealed cover to prejudice the court against the petitioner.