You are here: Home » Current Affairs » News » National
Business Standard

Wear gold chains, get medicines but have our food: CBI to Karti; 10 updates

Karti's father P Chidambaram and mother Nalini Chidambaram, who are both senior advocates, were present in court and seen talking to him.

BS Web Team | Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Karti Chidambaram
Karti Chidambaram leaves Patiala House Courts after he was remanded to five-day CBI custody in the INX Media case, in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: PTI

Delhi's Patiala House Court on Thursday sent to CBI custody till March 6 in Karti was produced before Special Judge Sunil Rana on the expiry of one-day police custody. Karti's father and mother Nalini Chidambaram, who are both senior advocates, were present in court and seen talking to him.

Following the order, counsel for Karti sought supply of home cooked food and medicines. The court allowed his lawyer to meet him for 1 hour each in morning and evening. They allowed medicines but denied home food, stating CBI will provide him the best food.

Karti was also allowed to wear his gold chains and rings as he refused to remove them citing religious reasons.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, said this is not a case of and the investigation is in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution.

"There are very shocking evidences of what Karti did when he went abroad," he said, adding that "when he went abroad, he closed bank accounts in which funds were received".

Mehta also said that Karti did not complain of any uneasiness during the medical check up on Wednesday, but doctors at the Safdarjung hospital had last night sent him to the cardiac care unit. He was brought to CBI office only this morning.

Senior advocate Abhishek Mani Singhvi, who is leading a team of lawyers for Karti, contended that in connection with the May 2017 FIR, the CBI has spent roughly 22 hours with Karti in August last year and no fresh summons were issued to him after August 2017 till today which shows the agency has nothing more to ask him. "The only way of establishing non-cooperation is to issue summons. You never tested my non-cooperation. Sudden arrest after six months. It's bizarre that I am arrested as I stepped out of plane. "There is not an iota of evidence against Karti. He is being arrested despite complying with court orders repeatedly." he said.

Singhvi asked if Karti has done something illegal while being abroad, why didn’t the CBI file a contempt petition before the court which allowed him to travel abroad. The CBI has said that in May 2007, first approval was given to INX Media and in April 2008, this reference was made in the Finance Ministry.

From June 2008 onwards, the bribe money was started being paid. The second approval was given on November 2, 2008. We are investigating whether the April 2008 reference was a "pressure technique", the CBI said. "We have emails and invoices indicating money was given to Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Limited (ASCPL), which is related to Karti, around the time period when INX Media received favours.

"There is substantial evidence with the agency which needs to be confronted with Karti. Three mobile phones have been recovered from him which need to be examined. 14 days is the minimum time required to keep him in custody," Mehta contended.

Karti was arrested on Wednesday at Chennai Airport on his return from the United Kingdom in connection with the FIR lodged on May 15 last year alleging irregularities in the (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 3.05 billion in 2007 when was the union finance minister.

Here are the top 10 developments around Karti Chidambaram's arrest and the INX Media money-laundering case:

1) Court sends Karti to 5-day custody: Karti Chidambaram, arrested in the INX Media case, was on Thursday remanded to five days of CBI custody by a Delhi court.

Special Judge Sunil Rana extended Karti's custody till March 6 after the CBI contended that there were "very shocking evidences" of what he has done when he went abroad and alleging "when he went abroad, he closed bank accounts in which funds were received".

Karti was produced before the court on expiry of one-day CBI custody amidst the presence of his parents and Nalini Chidambaram, both senior advocates, and were seen talking to him.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, maintained that this was "not a case of political vendetta" and the investigation was going on in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution.

"There are very shocking evidences of what Karti did when he went abroad," he said, adding that "when he went abroad, he closed bank accounts in which funds were received".

Even though Karti did not complain of any uneasiness during his regular medical check up on Wednesday, doctors at Safdarjung Hospital last night sent him to cardiac care unit and he was brought to CBI office only in the morning.

Due to his hospitalisation, the CBI's one-day custody was virtually wasted as it got Karti's custody only at 7:30 pm and he returned from the hospital this morning, he said.

2) CBI seeks 14-day custodial interrogation: The CBI on Thursday produced before Patiala House Court after the expiry of his one-day custody and sought an extension of his custody by 14 days, PTI reported.

CBI said there is clear evidence of links between and various companies and that they have emails and invoices indicating money was given to Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Limited (ASCPL) in the time period when INX media received favours, ANI reported.

The whole purpose of Wednesday's custody was defeated when after Karti's medical examination, the doctor got him shifted to Cardiac Care Unit, CBI told the court. The agency added that it was surprising because Karti did not complain about anything and was fine in morning but gave evasive answers when CBI questioned him.

Appearing for Karti, counsel said there is no ground for custodial interrogation and asked how can CBI claim non-cooperation when they haven't issued summons. All documents are in their possession, he added.

The Patiala House Court also heard the bail plea of S Bhaskararaman, Karti's chartered accountant (CA), in connection with the same case and reserved order. Bhaskararaman will be in jail till March 7.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had arrested S Bhaskararaman from a hotel in Delhi on February 16. Subsequently, a Delhi court had sent Bhaskararaman to 14 days of judicial custody on February 26.

3) Mukerjeas allege asked them to help in Karti's business: Officials said that Karti was arrested by the CBI on the basis of confessional statements of INX Media Limited directors Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, alleging that they paid $700,000 to him on the instructions of his father This alleged payment served as a quid pro quo for an clearance.

According to officials, the Mukerjeas' statements were recorded by the ED, which is probing the money-laundering angle in the case. The CBI had only recorded Indrani's statement before a magistrate as per section 164 of the CrPC.

Peter and Indrani had alleged that they met the then Finance Minister at his North Block office, seeking clearance for foreign investments in their media company after the Income Tax department detected irregularities in these instances, in 2007.

Quoting from the Mukerjeas' statements, officials said that the elder Chidambaram had asked them to "help the business of his son and make foreign remittances for the purpose".

ALSO READ: Paid Karti $700,000 through foreign subsidiaries, claim Indrani and Peter

The couple also admitted that they subsequently met Karti at a five-star hotel in Delhi, where he allegedly made a demand of $1 million, the officials said. They added that this was reiterated by Indrani before the magistrate as well.

According to the officials, Indrani confirmed in her statement to the CBI and ED that a payment of $700,000 ($7 lakh) was made to the bank accounts of overseas firms linked to Karti.

Peter and Indrani, facing trial for allegedly killing their daughter Sheena Bora, had said in their statement that Karti "suggested" to them the names of firms such as Chess Management and Advantage Strategic for the payments.

As part of the alleged quid pro quo, INX Media had made a payment of over Rs 996,000 (Rs 9.96 lakh) to Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited (ASCPL), a firm allegedly controlled by Karti, by a cheque issued on July 15, 2008, the officials said. While the invoice issued by ASCPL claimed that the service rendered by it to INX Media was management consultancy, the "ledger extract" sent by the latter to the probe agencies showed that the payment was made for replying "towards notification and clarification", they added.

The ED, they said, had seized four invoices of $700,000 ($7 lakh) -- drawn by ASCPL, its Singapore subsidiary, another linked company identified as NorthStar Software Solutions Pvt Ltd, and Geben Trading Ltd -- after it recently raided the offices of Karti and his chartered accountant, Bhaskararaman.

During the raids, the ED had also recovered "digital evidence" and invoices raised on INX Media Limited, sources said. They added that ASCPL had also received payments "on behalf" of Karti in other cases, where money was paid in "proximity to approvals given by the Ministry of Finance", including from Aircel Televentures Limited for an approval for the sale of its shares in Aircel Limited to Maxis in March 2006.

ALSO READ: No interference from govt in Karti Chidambram's case: Ravi Shankar Prasad

4) CBI says Karti could be tampering with evidence: On Wednesday, the CBI justified Karti's arrest in the INX Media case in a Delhi court by taking the ground of his non-cooperation and frequent foreign visits.

Seeking 15-day custody of Karti, the CBI prosecutors contended before Duty Magistrate Anand that he had not cooperated in the investigation. They also contended that Karti had been repeatedly travelling abroad, which they said "confirmed the apprehensions of his tampering with the evidence lying abroad against him and others in the form of secret note received from the Ministry of Finance".

5) Karti not a 'Hindustan Leaver': After the CBI counsel told the duty magistrate that the probe agency needed Karti's custodial interrogation since he was not cooperating with the probe and was going abroad frequently, senior counsel rejected the CBI's claim.

Click here to read how CBI justified Karti Chidambaram's arrest

Singhvi said both charges against his client, Karti, were false. He said that Karti had appeared before the CBI and ED for 30-40 hours and cooperated.

Singhvi said after August 28 last year, the CBI had never issued summons and, whenever Karti went abroad, he took the court's permission. He also rejected the charge of possible evidence tampering by Karti, saying that this was a 10-year-old case based on documents and that there was no question of tampering.

Singhvi described Karti's arrest as "malafide". The senior counsel jocularly remarked that Karti was not a "Hindustan Leaver, but Hindustan Returner" for which he got the reward of being arrested at the airport.

The defence counsel also said that Karti was ready for any condition, like the surrender of his passport and remaining within the city, apart from marking daily attendance.

6) rushes back from England to support Karti: When he heard of his son Karti's arrest, leader and former Union finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram cancelled his engagements in England and returned to Delhi immediately after arriving at London’s Heathrow airport on Wednesday morning.

P Chidambaram

Former finance minister arrives at Patiala House Courts in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: PTI

Among the elder Chidambaram's engagements was a debate at the high profile Oxford Union on the motion "This House Regrets the Partition of India" on Thursday evening.

Chidambaram looked "extremely distraught", according to an observer. This was soon after he came to know about Karti's detention. Subsequently, he decided to rush back home on the first available flight to support his son.

ALSO READ: Karti sent to one-day CBI custody in INX Media case

7) Karti says govt targeting his father through him: On Wednesday, Karti signed the arrest memo by writing on it that all the allegations made against him were meant to target his father, P Chidambaram.

"This whole exercise is to politically target my father," Karti wrote on the arrest memo, before signing it. The memo of arrest was placed before Duty Magistrate Anand, before whom Karti was produced after he was flown to Delhi from Chennai.

On his way to the courtroom, Karti told media persons that the allegations made against him by the CBI were "politically motivated". He added that he would be "vindicated" in court.

Karti said his arrest was an act of political vendetta by the Modi government. "Absolutely, political vendetta," he said, expressing confidence that he will eventually be vindicated.

8) says this is 'vindictive politics': On Wednesday, the criticised Karti's arrest as evidence of the Modi government's "vindictive politics". The Opposition party described it as an attempt to "distract attention and divert the narrative" from the government's failures in taking action against the likes of Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, and Vijay Mallya.

At a briefing, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala called the arrest the "political persecution of P Chidambaram by a puppet CBI acting to serve the political agenda of its political masters and to mask the culture of colossal corruption and cronyism flourishing under the government".

9) says evidence will speak for itself: Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, briefing the media after a Cabinet meeting, said the CBI would explain the details of the case, and that the government did not wish to interfere. "I will only make one observation that... the nature of the evidence available against the offender must speak for itself," he said.

General Secretary Ram Madhav said that if the government was vindictive, Karti's arrest would have taken place in the first year of the Modi government. For his part, Rajya Sabha member lauded the CBI for the arrest.

10) might have seen this coming: The elder Chidambaram had filed a petition in the Supreme Court last week, apprehending the "continued harassment" of his family and himself. In the petition, Chidambaram had said that being the Union finance minister then, he had granted approvals in the and the Aircel-Maxis case in the "normal course of official business".

Further, the former finance minister said that in the discharge of his functions, he had "never allowed any member of his family, including his son, or any other person to interfere with or influence the conduct of official business".

He said that the CBI and the ED could not "harass" Karti and others by issuing repeated summons to them as they were not connected with the approval.

With agency inputs

First Published: Thu, March 01 2018. 22:39 IST