New Delhi: Karti Chidambaram will have to spend three more days in custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation, a Delhi Court ordered after the CBI underlined that it had “concrete credible evidence collected recently” against him. The agency had asked the court to extend Karti Chidambaram’s CBI custody by nine days. The investigation agency alleged that Mr Chidambaram, who is the son of senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram, has refused to share the passwords of his phones seized, choosing only to say that he is a victim of political vendetta when asked “relevant questions”.
Karti Chidambaram was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation last Wednesday in the INX Media investment case and the agency has questioned him for five days. He has sought bail, pleading that there is no reason to hold him in custody.
“It’s a 10 year old case, I can’t change files or affect the testimony of officials…Why custody? I can be questioned morning to evening,” Mr Chidambaram’s lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court today.
The CBI countered bail, alleging that evidence has been tampered with in the case. “It is an enormous offence…it will cause serious prejudice to the probe if further remand is not granted,” the CBI’s lawyer said in court.
Karti Chidambaram has been accused of receiving kickbacks a decade ago to get foreign investment into INX Media group cleared by using the influence of his father P Chidambaram, who was then the Union finance minister. At the time, the company was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, now in jail in a murder case.
The CBI also informed the court today about Karti Chidambaram being faced off with Indrani Mukerjea at Mumbai’s Byculla jail on Sunday, which the CBI had recorded.
Tushar Mehta, a senior law officer of the government who appeared for the probe agency, and Karti Chidambaram, however, could not agree how long the confrontation took place. CBI said it went on for three hours, Karti’s lawyer insisted it lasted no more than 25 minutes.
Mr Mehta told the special CBI court that its case was not just based on Indrani Mukerjea’s testimony but also other evidence that it had gathered.
“From India to global, from rupees to dollars, we (the country) have already suffered damage,” Mr Mehta said, underlining that this was a “huge investigation” and they had made “substantial progress” but needed more time.
The CBI has backed its request to give them nine more days to question Karti Chidambaram in the INX media case with a report outlining the progress made in its investigation. The report was given to the court in a sealed cover.
During the lunch break earlier, Karti Chidambaram was able to briefly spend some time with his mother Nalini and father P Chidambaram who had reached the Patiala House complex minutes before Karti was brought to the court.
Both of them were also present when Karti Chidambaram was brought to the court last week. “Don’t worry, I am there,” the Congress leader had then told his son.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had refused to stop the Enforcement Directorate, another central agency, from arresting Karti Chidambaram.
The Congress leader’s son had asked the top court to cancel the summons issued to him by the directorate. “What is the harm,” his lawyer Kapil Sibal had argued in the Supreme Court. The top court, however, went along with the assessment of the government that it would impact other pending case.