A day after he was arrested by the CBI in connection with the INX Media case, the investigative agency produced senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram before the special CBI court in the Rouse Avenue Complex in New Delhi. Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, sought Chidambaram’s 5-day custodial interrogation, saying there was a need to unearth a “larger conspiracy”. The court granted CBI Chidambaram’s custody.
Chidambaram was produced before Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar. Chidambaram’s advocates, Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, opposed the CBI plea on the ground that all the other accused, including his son Karti, have already been granted bail in the case. Follow Chidambaram INX Media case LIVE Updates here
Here’s how arguments unfolded between the two sides:
CBI: SG Tushar Mehta told the court that Chidambaram was in conspiracy with others in the INX Media scam and that he was not cooperating in the investigation. Mehta said the agency was not extorting a confession but it had the right to reach the root of the case.
Regarding the issue of CBI not filing a chargesheet yet, Mehta said it would be filed after acquiring the material that Chidambaram is holding. Hence, he said Chidambaram’s custodial interrogation was necessary to unearth larger conspiracy in the INX Media case.
“Effective investigation is possible only in custodial interrogation,” Mehta argued. He concluded his first set of arguments by saying the INX Media scam was a serious and monumental case of money laundering and required to be probed thoroughly.
Chidambaram’s counsel: Kapil Sibal opposed the CBI plea for custodial interrogation on grounds that all other accused in the case, including Chidambaram’s son Karti, have already been granted bail. To strengthen his argument, he said the first arrest in the case was of Bhaskar Raman, chartered accountant of Karti, who is presently out on bail. Other accused, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, are out on default bail but they are in jail in connection with another matter, Sibal said.
He further said that the first FIR in the case was filed 10 years after the alleged offence and Chidambaram had never skipped interrogation.
Sibal said Chidambaram was asked 12 questions and he had already answered six of them previously. “Investigators don’t know what to ask and they don’t have questions ready with them,” Sibal told the court.
Regarding the documents that CBI alleged were being held by Chidambaram, Sibal said the agency could simply have asked him to produce them. He also said that grant of bail was a rule and the issue before the court was of personal liberty.
Putting forward his arguments, Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the entire case was built on a statement by Indrani Mukerjea, who has now turned an approver. He said Chidambaram was not a flight risk and he cannot answer according to what the CBI wants to hear.
Opposing the custodial interrogation of Chidambaram, Singhvi said no allegation of tampering of evidence was made by CBI. He said remand could only be sought in special circumstances and there was no new development in the case.
CBI: In his concluding arguments, SG Tushar Mehta said everyone was equal before the court. He also countered the demand that Chidambaram be allowed to speak himself, saying he was already being represented by able lawyers and he “has tremendous potential of not cooperating in probe since he is highly intelligent”.
Mehta said even Chidambaram’s son Karti underwent custodial interrogation in the case and this called for Chidambaram’s custody as he had been evasive in his replies. He ended the argument by saying the INX Media was a serious case involving intelligent people and the investigative agency would fail in their duty if they don’t get to the root of the case.