A special CBI court has allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to interrogate Congress leader P Chidambaram tomorrow in connection with INX media case and if the need arises, it will allow it to arrest him.
ED will interrogate him for 30 minutes and if arrest is warranted, then the application for custody will be moved. The Special judge at the Rouse Avenue court Ajay Kumar Kuhar gave the ED the option to interrogate the former finance minister at the court premises or in Tihar jail and while the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opted for the former, senior advocate Kapil Sibal who is counsel for Chidambaram objected citing dignity of the proceedings.
During arguments yesterday, Mehta told special judge 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 Sibal who said that the CBI has already taken remand and ED has no ground since the offence is same. At this point, Mehta had said: “When we start with the wrong question, we get the wrong answer.”
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 August 21 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.
—India Legal Bureau