INX Media Case: CBI and ED officials in a high-drama event on August 21, 2019 arrested former Finance Minister P Chidambaram from his Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi. CBI officials were initially denied entry into Chidambaram ‘s house but they climbed the walls of his house to get inside to initiate the arrest.
Chidambaram’s arrest unfolded in a 55-minute drama, after the Delhi High Court rejected Chidambaram’s bail plea in the INX Media case. Before his arrest, Chidambaram, who had been untraceable for almost 27 hours since Monday afternoon, appeared briefly at the AICC headquarters to address the media on the charges leveled against him.
Chidambaram in his brief media address strongly defended himself, saying that no chargesheet was filed in the case and no FIR was filed against him in the INX Media case. Though CBI officials arrived at the AICC headquarters to arrest him, Chidambaram had left the venue by then.
When the news broke that the senior Congress leader had returned to his house, a team of CBI immediately reached there but they were denied entry into the house, prompting them to climb over the walls of the property on Wednesday. The theatrics continued for about 55 minutes, after which Chidambaram was escorted out in a CBI vehicle by CBI and ED officers.
The 27-hour run chase came to an end with the arrest and immediately following it, Chidambaram was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for a medical check-up and then to the CBI headquarters for questioning in relation to the INX Media case. The former Union Finance Minister will soon be produced before a special CBI court on Thursday.
INX Media case: Why did the CBI arrest former Finance Minister P Chidambaram?
The CBI and ED officials arrested former Finance Minister P Chidambaram to interrogate him regarding the INX Media corruption case.
INX Media corruption case: What is it?
The INX Media corruption case relates to the irregularities in the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) to the INX Media group for getting overseas funds worth around Rs 305 crore in 2007. This was the time when P Chidambaram was the finance minister under the UPA-I government.
INX Media case: All you need to know
The Enforcement Directorate had filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram in May 2017, INX Media and its directors, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The CBI also subsequently filed an FIR against Karti Chidambaram and INX Media alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to INX Media in 2007 for receiving overseas funds worth Rs 305 crore.
P Chidambaram had told the Supreme Court in October 2017 that the BJP-led central government was carrying out a “politically-motivated vendetta” against him and his son Karti Chidambaram.
The Enforcement Directorate then lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018 and the CBI summoned Chidambaram for questioning.
P Chidambaram sought anticipatory bail in the corruption case from the Delhi High Court in May 30, 2018. The Minister also sought anticipatory bail from Delhi HC in the money laundering case registered by the ED in July 2018.
The Delhi High Court granted the senior Congress leader interim protection from arrest in both the cases in July 2018. Further, the ED in October 2018 attached Karti Chidambaram’s assets worth Rs 54 crore in India, the UK and Spain, in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.
In January 2019, the Delhi High Court reserved its judgement on P Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea in both the cases.
The Enforcement Directorate asked Karti Chidambaram to vacate his Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi on August 1 and 19 days later, on August 20, 2019, the Delhi High Court dismissed Chidambaram’s bail pleas, observing that he appeared to be the “kingpin” in the money laundering case. The High Court also declined Chidambaram’s request to stay the order for three days to enable him to move an appeal in the SC till then.
The Supreme Court also declined Chidambaram’s plea for urgent hearing on the matter on August 21 and listed the matter for hearing on Friday.
INX Media case: How is P Chidambaram involved in the case?
P Chidambaram is suspected to have played a leading role in getting clearance from the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) the second time round after the FIPB had rejected the application in the first round.
The FIPB had approved Rs 4.62 crore worth of foreign investment into INX Media but it did not approve the proposal of INX Media’s downstream 26 per cent investment into INX News. However, INX Media not only received Rs 305.36 crore in violation of FIPB rules, it also invested in 26 per cent equity in INX News without FIPB approval.
The other allegations include that of bribery against Karti Chidambaram, who reportedly demanded $1 million in foreign accounts when Peter and Indrani Mukerje approached him to get approvals.
The CBI and ED would also like to enquire whether Chidambaram influenced any finance ministry officials to approve INX News application the second time. Three members who were in the Department of Economic Affairs when Chidambaram was the finance minister, Sindhushree Khullar, Anup K Pujari, Prabodh Saxena, have been accused of corruption in the INX Media case.
P Chidambaram arrest: How it happened?
After the Delhi High Court rejected Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea, the former Finance Minsiter’s legal counsel tried to get him an anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court. However, the top court has listed the matter for hearing on Friday. Chidabaram had requested the CBI and ED to wait till Friday till the bail plea is heard by the apex court. The WD and CBI issued separate look out circulars to prevent him from leaving the country. The CBI also posted a notice outside Chidabaram’s house asking him to appear for questioning within two hours.