Expressing concern over former union minister P Chidambaram’s “continued detention in custody”, Singh said: “In our system of government, no decision can be taken by any single person. All decisions are collective decisions recorded in files. A dozen officers, including six secretaries to the government, examined and recommended the proposal, minister Chidambaram approved the unanimous recommendation.”
The former prime minister questioned how Chidambaram was made an accused in the INX Media case for approving a recommendation made by several government officers.
“If the officers are not at fault, it is beyond our comprehension how the minister who simply approved the recommendation can be accused of committing an offence,” he added.
Manmohan Singh also said that the entire system of government will collapse if only a minister is held accountable for a particular decision.
Expressing hope that justice will be delivered in the case, Singh said, “We are confident and we sincerely hope that the courts will render justice in the case.”
Singh’s remarks came hours after Chidambaram denied the CBI’s claim that he was trying to influence the witnesses related to the matter since 2007.
At the Delhi High Court, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait was told by senior advocate Kapil Sibal that as per the normal procedure, the FDI proposal of INX Media was processed by several officers in the FIPB unit; thereafter, it was put up to the FIPB comprising of 6 secretaries who after due consideration, made its recommendations to the Ministry of Finance.
After the file went through several levels, it came before Chidambaram and he approved it, Sibal said, adding that the alleged offence took place in 2007-08 and the FIR was lodged in May 2017, when there was no allegation that he tried to influence anyone.
“All six secretaries were right in their decision. There was no allegation that I influenced them. I have been confronted with them. They said what they did was right. Why I am being singled out. I only accepted the recommendations and I am in jail. Those who made the recommendations are out,” Sibal said.
“Chidambaram has already been confronted with five officers of the Ministry of Finance who were involved in the processing of the FIPB proposal pertaining to INX Media and each of their statements have already been recorded by the CBI. As such, there arises no question of influencing any witnesses,” he added.
Chidambaram, who was arrested on August 21 by the CBI from his Jor Bagh residence here, is currently lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody till October 3.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister.
Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.
After the meeting, Chidambaram expressed his gratitude towards both the leaders. Through his Twitter handle, which is being handled by his family on his behalf, Chidambaram said, “I am honoured that Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh called on me today. As long as the Congress party is strong and brave, I will also be strong and brave.”
(With PTI inputs)