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Denied Home-Cooked Food, Karti Chidambaram Asks CBI to Pick 'Swiggy or Zomato'

By: Debayan Roy

Edited By: Ashutosh Tripathi


Last Updated: March 02, 2018, 08:29 IST

File photo of Karti Chiadambaram

File photo of Karti Chiadambaram

Special CBI Judge Sunil Rana extended the CBI custody of Karti Chidambaram till March 6 and allowed him the accused to carry medicines on prescription. However, a request for home food was declined by the court.

New Delhi: A Special CBI court on Thursday granted a further five-day custody of Karti Chidambaram to the Central Bureau of Investigation for interrogation into the INX Media money laundering case after CBI produced confidential documents to satiate the "conscience of the court”.

Special CBI Judge Sunil Rana extended the CBI custody of Karti Chidambaram till March 6 and allowed the accused to carry medicines on prescription. However, a request for home food was declined by the court.

Upon being denied the home cooked food, Karti, in a friendly banter, told CBI: "I hope your investigating officer will have Swiggy or Zomato to order food. I am planning to make full use of it." The CBI officer, though, responded in negative to the said request. Not to be disheartened, Karti said: "Then you will have to get Swiggy or Zomato."

The counsel for Karti informed the court that it was former Finance Minister Chidambaram who had started prosecution against INX media for irregularities, and that the case was referred to the Serious Fraud Investigation Office under the then Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

"In 2008, Vir Sanghvi, an eminent journalist, had made a complaint to the Information and Broadcasting Minister that INX media should be interrogated. Then Finance Minister P Chidambaram raised the matter with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, headed by Sachin Pilot, which in turn referred the matter to SFIO," said senior lawyer Singhvi.

Singhvi further contended that on this premise "there can be no truth that P Chidambaram had orchestrated the fraud when he himself was the person who started investigation against INX Media”.

However, Additional Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, who argued for CBI, laid down a list of dates refuting Singhvi's statement on Chidambaram and said: "I don't wish to get into the SFIO argument at this stage."

"FIPB first approval was given on May 2007. SFIO recommendation by P Chidambaram was made on April 2008. The second approval by FIPB was given on Nov 2, 2008. I cannot allege if pressure was being built on the then Finance Minister," said Mehta.

Mehta began the arguments stating that the agency had started questioning Karti only today (Thursday) at 10am as he was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital's Cardiac Care Unit even though he did not complain of any medical problem.

"Dr Shakeel Ahmed Khan admitted him to CCU last night. Karti was discharged at 7.57 am today. After he was brought to CBI, he remained evasive in his responses to the agency," said Mehta.

The CBI demanded further 14 days for interrogation of Karti, "as all other less drastic measures had already been exercised".

One of the primary evidence, which the CBI submitted in the court, was the confessional statement of Indrani Mukherjee recorded under Section 164 of criminal procedure code. It the statement read: "Indrani along with her husband Peter Mukherjee had travelled to a hotel to meet Karti Chidambaram for FIPB approval and that Karti had demanded one million dollars."

However, Singhvi vehemently rebutted the point stating that the evidence of confessional statements was publicly available. "CBI should make its system more secure."

The confessional statement of Indrani Mukerjea being submitted is available over WhatsApp," said Singhvi.

Singhvi based his arguments on three key points as conditions to satisfy for ordering custody of Karti.

He stated that grounds such as possible tampering of evidence, non-cooperation with investigation authorities and flight risk did not arise in Karti's case as only half facts were thrown around by the CBI.

"All documents are with CBI since last three years, no summons were issued to Karti for the last six months by the CBI and that Madras HC division bench had itself ruled that there was no problem with Karti travelling abroad," said Singhvi.

CBI pleaded that the substantive offence against "Karti was that he in connivance with P Chidambaram helped several companies to get FIPB approval for which there were transactions. Since investigation is underway, CBI was yet to interrogate the accused. Karti was completely evasive and non-cooperative. Basic questions were unanswered," claimed ASG Mehta.

Mehta also claimed that now in custodial interrogation, Karti would be confronted with several evidence and witnesses.

"This is only the tip of an iceberg. The documents produced show how Advantage Strategic is virtually owned by Karti Chidambaram. The shares of Advantage Strategic was willed to be bequeathed to the daughter of Karti," stated Mehta.

ASG Mehta throughout the hearing submitted a barrage of documents to the court confidentially to avoid public glare and revelation from the other witnesses who were not aware of the documents.

"All these documents show the extremely serious nature of the offence and are hence unimpeachable form of evidence. This is to satisfy the court and strictly in accordance with article 21 of the Constitution," said Mehta.

However, Singhvi made it clear that Karti was not a shareholder or director of the two companies, namely, Advantage Strategic or Advantage Singapore.

"Karti is not a shareholder or a director of any of the Advantage companies. The bank accounts of advantage companies show no record of any such receipt of money. Then where is the culpability? Even North Star and Chess Management are alien to us. You have to show X raised invoice Y and Y must show remittance of such receipt which is allegedly a bribe. But no such remittances have been produced," submitted Karti's counsel.

first published:March 01, 2018, 18:53 IST
last updated:March 02, 2018, 08:29 IST