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How Can CBI Claim Non-cooperation When They Haven't Issued Summons? Karti's Counsel in Court

Protesting against the arrest of Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media Ltd case, Congress leaders questioned the “mental status” of Indrani Mukerjea.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:March 1, 2018, 5:03 PM IST
How Can CBI Claim Non-cooperation When They Haven't Issued Summons? Karti's Counsel in Court
File photo of Karti Chidambaram and Indrani Mukerjea.
Chennai: Congress leaders on Thursday questioned the “mental status” of former INX Media Ltd director Indrani Mukerjea, whose confessional statement led to the arrest of former finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti in the FIPB approval case.

Staging a protest at Valluvar Kottam in the city, around 200 Congress leaders raised slogans against the BJP, calling Karti’s arrest a “political witch-hunt”. The protesters held posters, accusing the BJP of trying to “divert attention from its scams”.

Questioning the veracity of Indrani’s statement, Congress leader Peter Alphonse said, "How can you trust the statement of Indrani Mukerjea? Her mental status is questionable. She has been in jail for two years. Her statement is questionable in court of law. This is a case of political vendetta.”

Echoing his party colleague’s views, ‘Karate’ Thiagarajan said: "There are five IAS officers who facilitated the FIPB deal. How come their names are not in the FIR? How can one trust the veracity of Indrani’s statement?"

Pointing out that he was arrested immediately after he steeped off the plane in Chennai, Karti said: "I am not Hindustan leaver but returner." This was apparently a dig at Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, who fled the country just as investigating agencies started filing cases against them for defaulting on bank loans.

Karti, 46, was arrested by a CBI team on Wednesday morning on his return from London in connection with its probe in the INX Media case.

"There is no ground for custodial interrogation. How can CBI claim non-cooperation when they haven't issued summons? All documents are in their possession," said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Karti's counsel.

An FIR filed by the CBI on May 15 last year had alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when P Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.

The arrest was reportedly made on the basis of confessional statements of INX Media Limited directors Peter and Indrani Mukerjea that they allegedly paid $7 lakh to Karti on the instructions of Chidambaram as quid pro quo for the FIPB clearance.

The statements were recorded by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the money laundering angle in the case, while the CBI had only recorded Indrani's statement before a magistrate as per section 164 of the CrPC, officials said.

Both Peter and Indrani had alleged that they had met the then finance minister at his North Block office, seeking clearance for foreign investments in their media company after the Income Tax department detected irregularities in these instances, in 2007.

Chidambaram had then asked them to "help the business of his son and make foreign remittances for the purpose," the officials said, quoting from the statements of the Mukerjeas.

The couple had also admitted that they subsequently met Karti at a five-star hotel in Delhi, where he allegedly made a demand of $1 million, they said, adding that this was reiterated by Indrani before the magistrate as well.

Indrani, they said, had confirmed in her statement to the CBI and ED that a payment of $7 lakh was made to the bank accounts of overseas firms linked to Karti.

Peter and Indrani, facing trial for allegedly killing the latter’s daughter Sheena Bora, had said in their statement that Karti "suggested" to them the names of firms such as Chess Management and Advantage Strategic for the payments. The Sheena Bora murder case is being probed by the CBI.

INX Media, as part of the alleged quid pro quo, had made a payment of over Rs 9.96 lakh to Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited (ASCPL), a firm allegedly controlled by Karti, by a cheque issued on July 15, 2008, the officials said.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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