India’s former finance minister arrested on corruption charges in overnight raid

File Image  PTI

File Image PTI

Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018 by the CBI for allegedly accepting money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media.

At the press conference, the former finance minister denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he was "not hiding from the law" but rather "seeking protection of the law".

Indrani, now in jail for allegedly murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, has turned approver in the case and the case against Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram has been built on her statement, said sources.

Chidambaram's custodial interrogation required to get answer of certain questions for effective probe, he said. "I was accused of running away from justice; on the contrary I was engaged in the pursuit of justice", he said, flanked by senior Congress leaders.

Earlier in the day, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alerted airports to prevent Palaniappan Chidambaram, who was finance minister from 2004 to 2008, and again from 2012 to 2014, from leaving the country. Calling it a case of documentary evidence, the senior lawyers said their client could not be expected to give replies to suit the whims of the investigating agency.

It said the submission of Chidambaram's counsel that gravity of an offence is gauged only by the quantum of punishment which can be awarded is not apt in the given facts and circumstances of the case. ". In my view, that can not be a ground to deny the investigating agencies an opportunity to conduct an effective investigation now".

He is due to appear in court on Thursday.

A team of CBI officials descended on the residence of former finance minister P Chidambaram Wednesday night, minutes after he reached there after a dramatic appearance at a press conference at AICC headquarters here.

Chidambaram was arrested from his Delhi residence amid high drama Wednesday night over allegations that companies linked to his son Karti influenced the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to approve irregular investment worth Rs 305 crore in INX Media when the former was the finance minister in 2007.

The ED in May 2017 had lodged an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) - a police FIR equivalent - against Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, along with a couple of others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Chidambaram was produced in the court amidst tight security and Sibal argued that the first arrest in the case was of Bhaskar Raman, chartered accountant of Karti, who is presently out on bail.

He asserted that the senior politician was arrested without any legal basis while many accused in the same case walk free.

However, Mehta said CBI has to interrogate Chidambaram in custody as he was non-cooperative and evasive in replies in the corruption case of monumental magnitude and the agency was not extorting his confession but it a serious case involving involving intelligent people.

He is also a lawyer and has practised in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court.

Chidambaram was arrested after issuance of non bailable warrant against him. Some supporters jumped on the white auto in which Chidambaram was being taken to the agency headquarters.

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