No loss to public exchequer in INX Media case, P Chidambaram tells Delhi HC

No loss to public exchequer in INX Media case, P Chidambaram tells Delhi HC

Aditi Singh

Rebutting CBI’s claim that the INX Media was a “case of betrayal of public trust at large“, former Union Minister P Chidambaram has asserted before the Delhi High Court that the case involves no loss to the public exchequer.

On the contrary, it is claimed that Rs 305 Crore came into INX Media as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which was well within the permissible percentage of 46.216% of equity. Out of this 305 Crore, Rs.26 Crore was invested in an Indian subsidiary company, i.e. INX News based on Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval, it is stated.

The averments form part of P Chidambaram’s rejoinder filed in his regular bail plea in the INX Media Case. Appearing for Chidambaram, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal began his submissions today before a Single Judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait.

Sibal asserted that decision with respect to FIPB clearance was not a one-man-job but was a “collective decision” of six Senior Secretaries to the Government of India, who were assisted by several officers in the FIPB unit and the Department of Economic Affairs.

It was, therefore, preposterous to allege that any person including P Chidambaram or his son Karti Chidambaram could have any influence over the decision, it is argued.

The rejoinder also claims that during their confrontation with Chidambaram when he was in CBI custody,  the officers involved in the FIPB approval process have stated that they were never advised or directed or in any way influenced by Chidambaram.

It is also claimed that the officers have stated that the approvals granted to INX media were within the policy and legal framework.

Chidambaram has reiterated that neither the CBI nor the Enforcement Directorate has found even an iota of evidence of any illegal gratification or payment by INX Media or any undisclosed bank account or undisclosed property belonging to him.

In his rejoinder, Chidambaram has also argued that the reliance on statements of alleged co-accused Indirani Mukherjea and Peter Mukherjea is wholly misconceived.

Raising questions on the credibility of the husband-wife duo, Chidambaram has brought to the notice that they are also accused in a murder case which is being probed by the CBI and are currently lodged in judicial custody.

Chidambaram also addressed CBI’s allegation that he was a flight risk and stated that the Agencies have already issued a Look Out Circular against him. Chidambaram has asserted that he has 49 years of standing at the Bar, out of which he has been a senior advocate for 35 years. Stressing on his “deep roots in the society”, Chidambaram has stated he has been in public life for over 40 years owing to his association with the Indian National Congress.

The INX Media case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media at the time when P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. It is the case of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram received illegal gratification from INX Media owners, Peter and Indrani Mukherjea for the clearance.

After being arrested by CBI last month, Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar had remanded Chidambaram to judicial custody on September 5 after the expiry of the maximum time period for police custody of an accused. Earlier this week, his judicial custody was extended by the CBI Court till October 3.

The Delhi High Court had issued notice to CBI in the bail plea filed by Chidambaram in the INX Media case on September 12.

In its response to the bail plea, CBI has argued that granting bail to P Chidambaram would be against the “zero-tolerance policy in corruption” and would set very wrong precedence.

The matter would be heard next on September 24.

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