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A special CBI Court on Monday reserved order on the plea of the Enforcement Directorate seeking custody of the former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case. It will now be pronounced on Tuesday at 4 PM.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the ED began his submissions bu quoting a supreme court order. “There is a finding by the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of P Chidambaram is necessary”, Mehta moves application for P Chidambaram’s arrest and remand.” Mehta told special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar . He said that money laundering is a separate offence and moved an application for Chidambaram’s arrest and remand.

The plea was vehemently opposed by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, who said that the CBI has already taken remand and ED has no ground since the offence is same. At this point, Mehta said “When we start with the wrong question, we get the wrong answer”. My Friend Kapil says that the transaction is the qme. This basic premise is fallacious”. he said and added that the ED has been seeking permission to investigate in PMLA under different heads and  the same should be allowed considering it a different head. .

“CBI already sought his custody for investigating payment and companies abroad, which ED wants to probe now,” he said.

Sibal urged the court to recall its order by which Tihar authorities were directed to produce Chidambaram before it. Chidambaram is in judicial custody till October 17 in the INX Media corruption case filed by the CBI.

The ED had on Friday moved a plea seeking production warrant of the 74-year old senior Congress leader. The probe agency said in its plea that it requires custodial interrogation of Chidambaram in the money laundering case related to INX Media.

Chidambaram was first arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case on 21 August after a dramatic turn of events. Once the CBI was done grilling him, Chidambaram had offered to surrender in the related case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate. That request was turned down by the ED and Chidambaram was sent to Tihar jail.

Last week, the ED told Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar that the agency had recorded the statement of 12 people and was now ready to interrogate him in the INX Media case. Judge Kuhar had ordered the authorities to produce Chidambaram before the court at 3 pm.

The INX Media case pertains to alleged irregularities in clearance by the foreign investment promotion board to the INX Media group for overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister. The ED had registered a money laundering case in this regard, accusing the ex-minister of laundering proceeds of crime in this case.

Chidambaram’s formal arrest by the ED for his custodial interrogation comes a day before a bench of the Supreme Court takes up the former home and finance minister’s request for bail in the CBI case. The high court had recently rejected his bail plea, holding that the senior politician could influence witnesses.

Chidambaram’s arrest and ED custody implies that he isn’t going to walk out to his freedom in a hurry, irrespective of which way the top court rules on his bail plea in the CBI case.

Chidamabram has spent nearly 40 days in Tihar jail.

P Chidambaram and son Karti are also fighting off an attempt by the investigating agencies to convince the Delhi High Court to cancel their anticipatory bail granted to them in the Rs 3,500 crore Aircel Maxis scam.

–India Legal Bureau

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