Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram Wednesday approached a trial court and the Delhi High Court, seeking anticipatory bail after probe agencies asked him to join investigations into two separate cases of alleged corruption, one relating to the Aircel-Maxis deal and the other to INX Media.
Chidamabaram filed a plea in the court of Special Judge O P Saini in connection with summons in the Aircel-Maxis case. The court granted him interim protection from arrest and ordered the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to take any coercive action against him until June 5.
Special Judge Saini said Chidambaram will join the investigation as and when called by the ED. In the order, the judge noted that Chidambaram had undertaken to comply with summons issued by the ED while stating that he apprehended arrest by the agency.
Hours later, Chidambaram moved the Delhi High Court, seeking anticipatory bail in the INX Media case being probed by the CBI which had asked him to join the investigation Thursday.
When the matter came up for hearing, Justice S P Garg said that due to paucity of time, he would not be able to hear the plea. He referred the matter to Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal to list it before an appropriate bench. It was assigned to Justice A K Pathak who sent a message via the court master to the counsel for CBI and Chidambaram that the matter would be taken up at 3 pm. But they requested that it be adjourned until Thursday.
Represented in the High Court by senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Dayan Krishnan, Mohit Mathur and advocates Pramod Kumar Dubey and Arshdeep Singh, Chidambaram, in his petition, said the CBI had suddenly and in a “mala fide” manner issued notice on May 28, directing him to appear before it despite the fact that he had neither been named in the FIR as an accused or a suspect.
He claimed that the proceedings were “mala fide” and “borne out of political vendetta”.
“The Investigating Agency is acting at the behest of the Central Government which wants to malign the untainted and unimpeachable reputation of the petitioner who is a senior leader of the Indian National Congress Party and was also the former Union Finance Minister and former Home Minister,” the petition stated.
Appearing for Chidambaram before the trial court, Sibal and Singhvi submitted that Chidambaram apprehended arrest in a case based on allegations in which main accused Dayanidhi Maran had already been discharged.
The ED Special Public Prosecutor Nitesh Rana said Chidambaram was “evading” summons to join the investigation. “He was summoned on May 30 and he did not join till now. He is summoned again on June 5,” Rana said, adding that he may be granted one week to respond to Chidambaram’s application.
The ED and CBI are probing alleged irregularities in clearances granted during Chidambaram’s tenure as Finance Minister. His son Karti Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case on February 28. Karti was granted bail by the High Court on March 23. In the Aircel-Maxis case, the trial court had granted him interim protection from arrest until July 10.
PTI adds: The Madras High Court Wednesday refused to stay prosecution initiated against Chidambaram’s wife Nalini, son Karti, daughter-in-law Srinidhi and a firm under the Black Money Act for allegedly not disclosing their foreign assets. Hearing a petition filed by the three challenging the complaints filed by the Income Tax department in a court in Chennai, Justice S Baskaran rejected their plea for an interim order staying the prosecution proceedings.