Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Delhi HC issues notice on CBI plea challenging bail granted to Karti Chidambaram’s CA

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A notice has been issued by the Delhi High Court on Tuesday on the petition filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging the bail granted to S. Bhaskararaman, the chartered accountant (CA) of Congress MP Karti Chidambaram.

Justice Poonam A. Bamba issued the notice to Bhaskararaman on the CBI plea. The case will be heard next on September 27. Bhaskararaman was arrested by the investigating team on May 18 pertaining to a bribery case relating to the clearance of visas of 263 Chinese nationals. He was granted bail by the trial court on June 9. The same has been challenged by CBI in the High Court.

The prosecution case is that a sum of Rs 50 lakh was paid as bribe to Bhaskararaman for enabling the re-use of project visas. He had been approached for the favour by one Vikas Makharia of Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (TSPL), a Vedanta Group company.  TSPL wanted project visas for Chinese experts as it had taken up a Punjab State Electricity Board contract for setting up a 1980 MW thermal power plant in Mansa district. The company was afraid of losing a large sum of money on account of delays in already-delayed project and hence tried to get more visas by bribing.

Bhaskararaman is said to have told Makharia to send a request letter to him via email and further discussed this with Karti Chidambaram.

A new kind of visa, Project Visa was introduced in October 2010 for core infrastructure sectors only. Its guidelines do not permit re-use of Project Visas was under normal circumstances and even in rare cases, it needed the prior consent of the Union Home Secretary and the Union Home Minister. The visa bribery is alleged to have taken place in 2011 when P. Chidambaram was Union Home Minister.

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