The Centre has accorded sanction to prosecute former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case, the CBI
informed a court here Monday. In an application filed in the court of Special Judge O P Saini, the CBI said it had filed a chargesheet in the case against 18 accused, including Chidambaram, on July 19, 2018. “The competent authority in the central government has accorded sanction for prosecution of accused Sh P Chidambaram under Section 197 of CrPC and Section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (as amended in 2018),” it said.
The court extended protection from arrest to Chidambaram and his son and co-accused Karti till December 18, the next date of hearing, while granting three weeks to the CBI to get sanction against some of the 17 other accused in the case. Besides Chidambaram, sanction has been sought for prosecution of five public servants. On behalf of the CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “Sanction for prosecution in respect of remaining accused public servants (five) is still awaited.” The CBI told the court it had more evidence against Chidambaram and prayed that his application for anticipatory bail be deferred by one week.
On behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the money-laundering case emanating out of the Aircel-Maxis case, Mehta informed the court that “custodial interrogation is essential as various new materials have surfaced”. Mehta said that the accused “misled the agency and made (a) false statement. He suppressed information about bank accounts in other countries and money received from various sources.”
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram, requested the court to extend the protection of the former Union minister and Karti in cases filed by the CBI and ED. In a written submission, Chidambaram and Karti had earlier denied they were “evasive” and called the allegations against them “unsubstantiated”.
Chidambaram had filed for anticipatory bail in May this year, and his plea seeking protection from arrest has been extended from time to time. The role of the senior Congress leader and his son is being probed in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal, signed in 2006. The agencies have said Maxis’s investment of US $800 million (then Rs 3,565.91 crore) in an Indian firm, Aircel, was approved by the Foreign Investment Promotional Board (FIPB) under the Finance Ministry, though the ministry, at the time headed by Chidambaram, was authorised to clear FDIs only up to Rs 600 crore. For FDI proposals above Rs 600 crore, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs was the competent authority. The ED said the FIPB under Chidambaram cleared the approvals to Aircel-Maxis deal “fraudulently and dishonestly” as part of “a larger conspiracy”.
In its chargesheet filed earlier in the case, the CBI had also named former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, but the special court had discharged them saying the agency had not found any material evidence against them. Apart from the probe into “fraudulent” grant of FIPB approval in 2006, the ED is probing a money-laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which Chidambaram and Karti have been questioned. Their anticipatory bail in that matter is pending.