The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday directed Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former Union minister P Chidambaram, to appear before it in connection with the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam on May 7. Nalini, who is an advocate, was mentioned in a “tell all” letter by Saradha CMD Sudipta Sen to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In his letter, Sen mentioned Nalini as the counsel of former Congress minister Matang Sinh and his estranged wife Manoranjana. Sen had stated that Matang and Manoranjana wanted to sell their company called ‘Positive Group’ to Sen. For settling the deal, they took Sen to Nalini’s chamber in Chennai.
According to Sen’s letter, Nalini “requested” Sen to “support Manoranjana Sinh to set up a TV channel in Guwahati” and further help her “with Rs 42 crore immediately”. The letter said that Nalini was the “sole arbitrator” in the deal and the duration of the consultation period was signed for one and a half years. Sen claimed that she had been given Rs 1 crore for the said period. Sen also alleged that he used to sponsor Nalini’s airfare and her stay at the Taj Bengal hotel in Kolkata. He further claimed that Manoranjana told him that if the Chidambaram family stood by him he would be out of several troubles.
According to an earlier report in The Indian Express on Sen’s letter, Nalini had denied any involvement in the deal.
Last week, the Madras High Court dismissed a petition by Nalini, challenging the ED’s summons to her to appear as a witness in the money laundering case. Justice S M Subramaniam rejected Nalini’s contention that women cannot be called for investigation out of their place of residence under CrPC Sec 160, saying such exemptions are not mandatory and are subject to facts and circumstances of a case.
“This court is of the opinion that based on gender, exemption cannot be sought for in a routine manner,” Subramaniam said in a 145-page order on Nalini’s petition and that of the Enforcement Directorate seeking to vacate a stay granted by the court earlier.