Hours after former Union minister P Chidambaram was granted protection from any coercive action, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday pressed for his custodial interrogation in the INX Media corruption case, alleging it was necessary as he has remained evasive and non-cooperative during questioning. The probe agency made the submission in an affidavit filed before Justice A K Pathak, who listed the matter for hearing on August 1 and extended till then the interim protection against arrest granted to Chidambaram on May 31.
The CBI, represented by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, in its affidavit said despite there being "cogent and convincing material on record" based on which questions were put to the former union minister, he "chose to remain evasive and did not cooperate with the investigating agency". "The material collected so far and the intensity and the gravity of the offence which is unfolding, requires custodial interrogation of the petitioner (Chidambaram) which is quantitatively different. The investigating agency has reached bona fide conclusion that in the absence of custodial interrogation, it will not be possible to reach the truth of the allegations as the petitioner has chosen to be evasive and non-cooperative," the agency has said while seeking dismissal of Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea.
The high court, while granting him interim protection from arrest, had asked the senior Congress leader to join questioning and cooperate in the investigation as and when called by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea, it was contended that the former minister was being harassed in the case, in which he was not named.
Chidambaram had on May 30 moved a trial court for protection from arrest in the Aircel-Maxis case of the Enforcement Directorate before approaching the high court in connection with the INX Media case.
The senior leader's role had come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Aircel-Maxis deal of Rs 35 billion and INX Media case involving Rs 3.05 billion.
It was during his tenure as the Finance Minister in the UPA-1 government that clearance from Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was granted to the two ventures in which alleged irregularities have been found.
In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15 last year against alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance to the media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 3.05 billion in 2007 during his tenure as the Finance Minister.
Chidambaram's son Karti was also arrested in the matter on February 28 for allegedly receiving funds to the tune of Rs 1 million in the case. He was granted bail on March 23.
CBI has challenged in the Supreme Court the bail granted to Karti Chidambaram.
The other accused in the case include then INX Media Director Indrani Mukerjea and then INX News Director Peter Mukerjea.