INX Media case: P Chidambaram is accused of facilitating foreign investment in a media company as Finance Minister in the Congress-led UPA government at the instance of his son Karti.
Former union minister P Chidambaram, with investigating agencies on his trail, failed to win a reprieve this morning after he asked the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing on his petition for an anticipatory bail in the INX Media case. The Enforcement Directorate has put out a lookout circular for Mr Chidambaram, who has not been seen since the High Court denied him protection from arrest on Tuesday, after which the CBI visited his home in Delhi twice.
A lookout notice means Mr Chidambaram will not be allowed to leave the country.
“It is a monumental magnitude of money laundering case,” the CBI today told the top court, which forwarded the senior Congress leader’s petition for an urgent hearing to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
In his petition before the Supreme Court, Mr Chidambaram argued that his antecedents were “impeccable” and there was no possibility of him “fleeing from justice”. Requesting more time to appear before the CBI, Mr Chidambaram asked for interim relief “or else he would suffer irreparable loss”.
Mr Chidambaram has been away from his home during visits by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. Past midnight on Tuesday, the CBI pasted a notice outside the house asking the former Finance Minister to appear before it within two hours of receiving the note.
“The petitioner is a law-abiding citizen and has a reputation to sustain in society. He is a sitting Member of the Rajya Sabha. The antecedents of the Petitioner are impeccable. He has never been an accused of any offence. There is no possibility of his fleeing from justice,” Mr Chidambaram’s petition said, adding that “custodial interrogation is not at all warranted”.
Mr Chidambaram faces arrest in what is dubbed the “INX Media case”, in which he is accused of facilitating foreign investment in a media company as Finance Minister in the Congress-led UPA government in 2007, at the instance of his son Karti, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role.
Rejecting Mr Chidambaram’s request for anticipatory bail, the Delhi High Court yesterday said “prima facie”, the facts of the case revealed that the “petitioner is the kingpin or key conspirator in the case”.
Calling it a classic case of money laundering, Justice Sunil Gaur said: “It was pertinently observed that the economic crimes of such mammoth scale are craftily planned and executed. This grant of bail in cases like instant one can send a wrong message to the society.”
Shortly after the order, a CBI team of six officers showed up at Mr Chidambaram’s home at Jor Bagh in south Delhi. After a few hours, the team left and another from the Enforcement Directorate arrived.
Mr Chidambaram’s lawyer has asked the CBI not to take any “coercive action” until the Supreme Court hearing on his petition for bail.