INDRANI MUKERJEA, former director of INX Media, has sought to become an approver in the alleged corruption case where her co-accused include Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Mukerjea recently wrote to a Patiala House court in Delhi, seeking grant of pardon as an accused. The court last month directed that she should be produced before it through video-conferencing on February 7 as she is lodged in a women’s jail in Byculla in Mumbai, facing trial for the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora.
The Delhi court will determine whether Indrani has made the plea under fear, pressure or under the promise of any favour.As per procedure, the court will seek the response of the investigating agency, the CBI,
following which it will then determine whether to allow Indrani’s plea to grant her pardon as an accused and make her a prosecution witness.
Earlier, Indrani had given a statement before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, claiming that Karti had demanded $1 million from her and her husband, co-accused, Peter Mukerjea, who co-founded INX Media with her.
Indrani claimed that the demand was made to swing approvals from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
The CBI’s FIR alleges that INX Media Private Limited made an application before the FIPB in March 2007 seeking approval for permission to issue shares and engage in the business of creating, operating, managing and broadcasting a bouquet of television channels. It claims that while the Board did not approve downstream investment by INX Media, the company violated the conditions of the approval.
The CBI claimed in its FIR that Karti, the then promoter of Chess Management Services Limited, entered into a criminal conspiracy to get the issues resolved “by influencing the public servants of the FIPB unit of the Ministry of Finance by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister” (P Chidambaram).
Following Indrani’s statement, Karti was arrested by the CBI in Delhi. In March last year, Karti was also brought to Mumbai to interrogate the two together based on claims made by her in her confessional statement. The Delhi court in its order passed last month directed Byculla jail authorities to make appropriate arrangements to produce her before it through video-conferencing.
PTI adds: The Delhi HC Wednesday allowed Chidambaram to place additional documents on record in his pending anticipatory bail plea in the INX Media case. The former finance minister sought to place on record printouts of several news articles published on February 3, which state that the Law Ministry told the Centre that CBI can be granted sanction to prosecute Chidambaram in the case. Justice Sunil Gaur allowed the application and said the additional documents are taken on record.
The court had, on January 25, reserved the order on Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail pleas in the corruption and money laundering cases relating to the INX Media scandal, lodged by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
In the application filed through advocate Arshdeep Singh and Pramod Dubey, Chidambaram said it was imperative to bring on record these facts to show that the CBI has completed its investigation in the case and has thereafter, sought sanction to prosecute him. “On February 3, it has been widely reported in the media that the Law Ministry has informed the central government that sanction can be granted to the CBI to prosecute the petitioner (Chidambaram) in the instant case…It appears that the opinion of the Law Ministry was sought on the request for grant of sanction made by the CBI against the petitioner,” the plea said.
The Congress leader has sought anticipatory bail saying that he was called for questioning by CBI only once in June 2018 and he was not even named as an accused in the FIR.
The CBI and ED have opposed the anticipatory bail plea and asserted that his custodial interrogation was required in the case as he was evasive in giving answers during questioning and they required his custodial interrogation which will be qualitatively different.
Meanwhile, two Income Tax inspectors approached the court seeking permission to record Mukerjea’s statement under Section 131 of the IT Act in connection with a bank account in New Zealand. It is likely to be done Thursday. Both CBI and ED have previously questioned Indrani and Peter with regard to their Income Tax returns, including their overseas account.