Former Union minister P Chidambaram, who moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking protection from arrest in the INX Media case, failed to get reprieve after the court refused to take a decision “right away” and forwarded his petition to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The move comes after the Delhi High Court rejected the anticipatory bail application of the senior Congress leader. Justice Sunil Gaur, denying relief to Chidambaram, said “facts of the case prima facie reveal that” he is the “kingpin that is the key conspirator in the case”, and he was evasive in replies to probe agencies when he was under protective cover given by the court.
Chidambaram now faces possible arrest in cases of corruption and money laundering related to the alleged INX media case.
What is the INX media case?
The CBI has alleged that Karti Chidambaram used the influence of his father P Chidambaram, who was the then finance minister, to interfere in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to get clearance of an application by INX Media in 2007. He allegedly received Rs 10 lakh in kickbacks from INX Media for his interference. The CBI has also accused INX Media of bribing Karti to scuttle a tax investigation.
The CBI filed an FIR in this regard on May 15, 2017, alleging there were irregularities in the FIPB’s FDI clearance — which is the government’s approval for foreign investment — to INX Media. INX media was then owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, who are in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.
Following this, the Income-Tax (I-T) Department in Mumbai forwarded the case to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). In 2010, ED registered a case against INX Media for alleged Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations. In 2018, ED lodged a money-laundering case alleging that FIPB clearances were given to INX media at the behest of Karti Chidambaram.
What are the allegations
CBI has alleged that INX media mentioned in this application to FIPB its intention to “make a downstream financial investment to the extent of 26 percent of the issued and outstanding equity share capital of INX News Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of INX Media”.
But FIPB rejected the proposal of downstream investment of INX Media in INX News. CBI has alleged that the media firm engaged Karti Chidambaram, the promoter director of Chess Management Service (P) Ltd, to “amicably” resolve the issue by “influencing the public servants of the FIPB unit of Ministry of Finance by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram”.
CBI has alleged that FIPB, instead of investigating the case, extended undue favours to the media firm by asking INX News to apply for fresh FIPB approval on the downstream investment that it had already received.
The agency said INX Media was given conditional approval by FIPB, which it flouted by bringing in investments of over Rs 305 crore of FDI in the firm against the approved inflow of Rs 4.62 crore, while it also made a downstream investment of 26% in its subsidiary, INX News.
Update on the case
The Enforcement Directorate in May 2017 filed a money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors. Subsequently, the CBI also filed a case against Karti Chidambaram. The two agencies then carried out several raids on offices and residences owned by the Chidambarams, and questioned Karti several times. Karti was arrested by CBI in February 2018. He was later granted bail by Delhi High Court, and is now the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga. CBI had called Chidambaram for questioning last year. Earlier this year, Chidambaram moved Delhi High Court to seek anticipatory bail in both the cases.