Chidambaram son in custody; challenges summon by ED

The Supreme Court on March 6 will hear a fresh plea from Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, seeking quashing of the Enforcement Directorate's summons against him in the INX Media case.

Prajanma Das

Chennai: Karti Chidambaram, arrested last week by the Central Bureau of Investigation, moved the Supreme Court today for the cancellation of summons by the Enforcement Directorate. His plea will be heard in court on March 6.

Karti was arrested on Wednesday in Chennai and taken to New Delhi in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.

 

The CBI claimed that Karti travelled too often and that made his interrogations difficult. CBI sources have said they wanted to grill Karti and his chartered accountant at the same time to check for discrepancies in their statements and confront them with the claims made by the others.

Defense attorney Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed that these arguments were baseless and could not be reason for his arrest.

According to NDTV, Singhvi called the case bizarre and added that the agency was attempting  to ‘prejudice the court with half-baked facts’.

However, a senior CBI officer told The Times of India. “We have strong evidence to confirm his role in a cheating case.”

 

Karti minutes after his flight from London landed at the Chennai airport on February 28. The CBI had registered an FIR nine months against him and the then INX Media Director Indrani Mukerjea and then INX News Director Peter Mukerjea. Karti’s chartered accountant, S Baskararaman,was arrested from a Delhi hotel on February 16. The CBI is seeking Karti’s custody based on the statements made by Bhaskararaman and Indrani Mukherjea, who is now in jail in connection with the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora.

The case according to the CBI is that on March 15, 2007 INX Media had applied for clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to operate and broadcast a bunch of channels including a Hindi entertainment channel, and multiple vernacular entertainment channels.  The agency alleged that INX Media violated rules and entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti Chidambaram, whose father was then Union Finance Minister, to avoid any serious disciplinary action.

 

The CBI’s FIR says, “INX Media (P) Limited deliberately and in violation of the conditions of the approval (i) made a downstream investment to the extent of 26% in the capital of INX News (P) Limited without the specific approval of FIPB which included indirect foreign investment by the same foreign investors and (ii) generated more than Rs 305 crores Foreign Direct Investment in INX Media (P) Limited against the approved foreign inflow of Rs 4.62 crores…….”

 

A year later, in May 2008, the FIPB issued a letter to INX Media demanding clarification on both issues.

However, a senior CBI officer told The Times of India. “We have strong evidence to confirm his role in a cheating case.”

The CBI alleged that owing to Karti’s influence, the officers and officials of the Board not only ignored the violations on the part of INX Media but also advised the group to apply for fresh FIPB approvals. The same proposal was later approved by the then Finance Minister.

Karti was paid for his “services” by INX Media, with invoices in the name of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Limited (ASCPL) amounting to Rs 10 lakh. The CBI also alleged that invoices for Rs 3.5 crore were also raised by INX Media in the name of other companies, where Karti had sustainable interests.

Describing the Karti’s arrest as “political persecution” of his father and his family, the Congress has accused the CBI of being “a captive puppet” of the Modi government carrying out political vendetta against opponents.

Karti Chidambaram at the CBI office in New Delhi on Tuesday. Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey.

“INX Media (P) Limited deliberately and in violation of the conditions of the approval (i) made a downstream investment to the extent of 26% in the capital of INX News (P) Limited without the specific approval of FIPB which included indirect foreign investment by the same foreign investors and (ii) generated more than Rs 305 crores Foreign Direct Investment in INX Media (P) Limited against the approved foreign inflow of Rs 4.62 crores…….”

Karti’s arrest follows the Punjab National Bank scam in which jewelry-tycoon Nirav Modi has been accused of defaulting on a Rs.12700 crore loan and fleeing the country and the Bank of Baroda scam where a loan of Rs.3695 crore was allegedly diverted to other than stated purpose bny Rotomac, a company that makes pens.