Aircel-Maxis Case: Enforcement Directorate Moves Delhi High Court Challenging Anticipatory Bail To Chidambaram, Son Karti
The Enforcement Directorate approached the Delhi High Court seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case, claiming that there is a likelihood of tampering with the evidence.
The plea has been listed for hearing before Justice Suresh Kait on Friday. The enforcement directorate has challenged the Sept. 5 order of the special court granting relief to 74-year-old Chidambaram and his son.
Chidambaram is lodged in jail after being arrested by the CBI on Aug. 21 in the INX Media corruption case. The trial court had also granted anticipatory bail to the father-son duo in the Aircel Maxis case filed by CBI.
The enforcement directorate contended that the pre-arrest bail in a case of economic offence was unwarranted and urged the high court to set aside the trial court's order granting relief to Chidambarams and cancel their anticipatory bail.
It claimed that the two remained evasive during the investigation and there is a likelihood that they could tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses.
The probe agency said the trial court failed to appreciate that custodial interrogation of the accused was required and its finding the offence not grave enough was completely perverse and untenable in law.
It said the position of Chidambaram and his son that they are members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha cannot be a legally tenable ground to grant them anticipatory bail.
Before Chidambaram and his son were made accused in the Aircel Maxis case, a special court had in February 2017 discharged DMK leader and former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others in the matter.
Later, both the agencies, enforcement directorate and CBI, filed supplementary charge sheets naming the Chidambarams in the scam. The cases relate to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal when Chidambaram was finance minister.
The CBI is probing how Chidambaram, being the finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs was empowered to do it.
The enforcement directorate is probing a money laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which the Chidambarams have been questioned by the agency.
While granting anticipatory bail to the Chidambarams, the trial court had said the charges against them were not of grave magnitude as the alleged money laundered is a "paltry amount" of Rs 1.13 crore compared to the money purportedly received by accused already discharged in the cases.
It had however directed the Chidambarams to join the probe in the cases lodged by the two agencies and said that in the event of arrest, they be released on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and one surety of like amount.
In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR in May 2017, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.
Chidambaram has approached the Supreme Court seeking bail in the INX Media case lodged by CBI after the Delhi High Court on Sept. 30, denied him the relief. He had not filed the bail plea before the trial court.