A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday extended the police custody of former finance minister P Chidambaram till August 30.
This gives the agency more time to question him in connection with the alleged discrepancies in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approvals to INX Media.
Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21 and produced before the special CBI judge the following day.
The court had then remanded him in the probe agency’s custody for five days, which was due to end on Monday.
In its plea seeking extending remand of the former Union minister, the CBI had said it needs more time to confront Chidambaram with the accused persons in the case.
Certain files, which contain information on his role in the alleged money laundering, have also been received by “sister agencies”, which require further investigation, the probe agency said in its plea.
In his argument before the special CBI court, Kapil Sibal, while opposing the extension of police custody, said there were no documents to prove that the “alleged payments of $5 million and $4.5 million” were given to Chidambaram.
Sibal also alleged that during the initial remand that started on August 22, Chidambaram had not been asked any questions by the CBI about the said bank accounts.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed as infructuous the anticipatory bail plea against arrest by CBI, moved by Chidambaram challenging a Delhi High Court judgment. “Since the petitioner has been arrested, in view of the judgment of the Constitution Bench reported in 1980...we find that this special leave petition has become infructuous. The special leave petition is, accordingly, dismissed as having become infructuous,” a two-judge Bench of Justice R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said.
Chidambaram, however, was at liberty to seek appropriate remedy in accordance with the law, including seeking regular bail, the apex court said. The apex court then started hearing Chidambaram’s plea against the custody sought by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
In its affidavit submitted to the apex court, the ED alleged that the financial intelligence unit (FIU) had given specific inputs that “the petitioner-accused and his co-conspirators had bank accounts/valuable properties in Argentina, Austria, British Virgin Island, France, Greece, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, and Sri Lanka.”
Apart from these, the FIU had also shared details of transactions pertaining to investments made by the former Union minister and his co-conspirators in shell companies, ED said in its affidavit. On the other hand, Sibal, while pleading for anticipatory bail in the ED case, said though the probe agency had mentioned the allegation in its affidavit, it had never confronted Chidambaram with these or summoned him to question on the same.
The apex court, after having heard the matter till the evening, said the interim protection to Chidambaram from arrest by the ED shall continue till Tuesday.