Karti Chidambaram sent to one-day CBI custody

NEW DELHI: Karti Chidambaram, who was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the INX Media money laundering case, has been sent to one-day CBI custody by Delhi’s Patiala House Court.

46-year-old Karti, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, was produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Sumeet Anand and the CBI sought his custodial interrogation for 15 days claiming that he was not cooperating in the probe.

In its remand application filed in the court, the CBI claimed that sustained interrogation of Karti was needed to unearth the “total conspiracy” hatched in the case and also to find out the details of overseas payments allegedly received by him from INX Media as a “quid pro quo”.

“Thus, Karti Chidambaram needs to be subjected to sustained interrogation for unearthing the total conspiracy hatched in the case and also to find out the details of overseas payments received by him from INX Media as a quid pro quo for influence exercised by him over the public servants to scuttle the punitive action required to be taken against M/S INX Media (P) Ltd for the illegal acts of receiving excess investment than the approved FDI and also for making of downstream investment without the FIPB approval. For this purpose, his police custody remand for a period of 15 days is considered essential,” the CBI said in the court.

During the hearing, CBI’s prosecutor V K Sharma told the court that Karti has not cooperated in the investigation and he has been repeatedly travelling abroad which “confirmed apprehensions” that “he will flee” from the country.

He alleged that one of the grounds for arresting Karti was that the CBI had recorded statement of Indrani Mukerjea, former Director of INX Media (P) Ltd, before a magistrate on February 17 in which she had said that Karti had “accepted one million dollars from INX Media” at the Hyatt Hotel here.

Opposing the CBI’s contentions, senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Karti, said it was a “bizzare” case and no grounds for arrest were made out.

“It is a bizzare case at the threshhold. It is not a case of arrest, leave aside police custody or judicial custody,” Singhvi told the court while opposing the CBI’s remand plea.

He also argued that Karti was summoned twice by the CBI on August 23 and 28 last year and he was interrogated for 22 hours by the agency.

Singhvi said, “there are no reasons given for the arrest. It is because you (CBI) want to show it to your bosses that you are doing some work.”

“Unlike others, I (Karti) am not ‘Hindustan leaver’ and instead I am ‘Hindustan returner’,” he said and claimed that Karti was cooperating with the CBI and the court might impose any condition while releasing him from the agency’s custody.

“I (Karti) am not a fugitive,” Singhvi, who was assisted by senior advocates Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur, told the court.

Before the beginning of his trial, Karti termed his arrest an act of political vendetta and expressed confidence that he will eventually be vindicated.

“Absolutely, political vendetta,” he said while being taken to a court for remand proceedings.

Refuting Karti’s allegation, BJP said that the arrest was in accordance with the course of law.

“…had it been vindictive it would have happened in first year of our government. It took four years because due legal process was followed. The agencies followed the process diligently and came to a conclusion,” said BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav.

The CBI has alleged that Karti received money from INX Media for using his influence to manipulate a tax probe against it in a case of violation of Foreign Investment Promotion Board conditions to receive investment from Mauritius. The CBI has said that it also seized vouchers of Rs 10 lakh which were allegedly paid for the services.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy hailed the investigating agency for arresting Karti. “The CBI now headed by Alok Verma has lived up to the reputation of being independent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Congress called the arrest a ‘diversionary tactic’ by the BJP to reduce attention around the recent bank frauds in the country.

“PM and his ministers using political witch-hunt and malicious intent to deflect heat from bank scam and losses to public exchequer. Political persecution of P Chidambaram and his son by puppet CBI to serve agenda of their political master is nothing but a cog in this wheel,” said Congress leader Randeep Surjewala.