Former Union minister P Chidambaram, who has been remanded to another three days of CBI custody in connection with the probe into charges of alleged corruption in INX Media case, on Friday told a special court that he has been questioned for over 55 hours, during which more than 400 questions were put to him. He replied them promptly, even though the agency claimed he has been evasive and non cooperative, he submitted.
The senior Congress leader also opposed the CBI’s demand for further five days of his custodial interrogation. He told Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar that he was repeatedly shown only three files during questioning, and was shown the same even on Friday for over two-and-a-half hours.
“There is simply no justification to keep me in custody. No question on bank accounts, shell companies and money transfers (were asked),” Chidambaram, who himself was making the submission, said.
He told the court, “In the Supreme Court, there was a mutual suggestion (by his and the CBI’s counsels) to extend my custody till Monday (September 2) since the matter was listed for that day (his application challenging the trial court’s remand order is listed for hearing).”
Chidambaram made the submission following confusion over who had made the suggestion to keep him in custody until September 2.
Chidambaram’s counsel, Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, urged the court that the CBI’s application for five-day remand be kept pending until September 2, when the Supreme Court takes up the matter challenging the remand.
Stating that “we do not mind” being in police custody until Monday, Krishnan said, “We have serious issue on the nature of questions asked by CBI. (There was) not a single document on money trail, shell companies shown to me in over 55 hours of questioning since my custody.”
Special Judge Kuhar said, “It is not a question of your choice…. This application has to be disposed of today, as there will be a new application on Monday.”
Appearing for CBI, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K M Natraj told the court that the suggestion to remain in custody came from Chidambaram’s counsel. “We need further five days of remand as the investigation has not yet been completed…. We are taking time because he (Chidambaram) is not straight giving answers; he takes a lot of time in answering.”
The court asked CBI why it did not seek 15 days of custody on the first day itself. The court said, “You were aware about the volume of documents, still you sought time in piece meal. On day one you should have asked for 15 days. In this manner your remand will continue for months or more.”
The court extended the remand until September 2 in view of submissions made by CBI and Chidambaram’s counsel.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate on Friday submitted documents related to the questioning of Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover under its official seal, PTI reports. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted the documents before a bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna.
On Thursday, the top court, while extending Chidambaram’s protection from arrest in the case until September 5, had asked ED to submit the documents in sealed cover under its official seal.