Breather for Chidambaram and Karti: Arrest extended till 8 March

New Delhi: A Delhi court today extended till 8 March the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis scam cases filed by the CBI and the ED. The ED told Special Judge O P Saini that Karti Chidambaram has been asked by the agency to appear before it on 5, 6, 7 and 12 March for questioning in the cases.

The probe agency said Karti was appearing before the probe agency as per the Supreme Court’s directions. The apex court had on 30 January asked Karti to appear before the ED on 5, 6, 7 and 12 March for questioning in connection with the INX Media and Aircel Maxis cases. ‘Let the matter be fixed after 12 March, since he has to appear on 5,6,7,12 March,’ ED, through Special Public Prosecutors N K Matta and Nitesh Rana, told the court.

P Chidambaram, who was present in the court, opposed the ED’s request to adjourn the matter, saying it was delaying the case. ‘Requesting both parties to expedite the matter but date is not fixed yet. Put up the matter for 8 March,’ the judge said. At this, the counsels for Chidambarams, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, requested to extend the protection granted to them, which was allowed by the court.

The case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal. The CBI had earlier informed the court that the Centre has granted sanction to prosecute five people, including serving and former bureaucrats, accused in the Aircel-Maxis case including the Chidambarams. The CBI had on 16 November last year informed the court that similar nod was procured for Chidambaram.

CBI and ED, in their replies to the anticipatory bail pleas of Chidambarams, had recently told the court that custodial interrogation of both the accused was required since various new materials have surfaced after filing of the charge sheet, alleging that they were not cooperating in the probe.

The father-son duo recently denied the allegations of both the agencies that they were evasive and non-cooperative during the probe in the case, and said the allegations against them were unsubstantiated and there was no need of their custodial interrogation.

The senior Congress leader and his son have come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

In its charge sheet filed earlier in the present case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the CBI alleged that P Chidambaram granted FIPB approval in March 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis.

FIPB approval questioned
There are 18 accused in the case. Chidambaram and Karti were named in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the case on 19 July last year. The agency filed a supplementary charge sheet before the special judge, who had fixed it for consideration on 31 July. The CBI is probing how Chidambaram, who was the Union finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it.


An extension for ever
P Chidambaram filed his anticipatory bail application in May last year. His protection from arrest has been extended from time to time. The agencies have sought the custodial interrogation of both the accused, saying they have not been cooperating and, therefore, making it difficult to complete the investigation in a time-bound manner as directed by the Supreme Court.

NT Bureau