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INX Media case: Chidambaram sent to CBI custody till Aug 26

By Vishal S

New Delhi, Aug 22: Former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram was on Thursday sent to 4-day CBI custody till August 26 in connection with the INX Media corruption case.

As per court order, Chidambaram's family can meet him for 30 mins daily. Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar asked the agency to conduct medical examination of Chidambaram every 48 hours.

Former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram

Opposing the CBI's demand for five-day custody of P Chidambaram, senior advocate Kapil Sibal earlier told the CBI court that former finance minister's custodial interrogation was unnecessary. He said Chidambaram never skipped interrogation

Tushar Mehta said CBI is dealing with a man who is literate and knows the nuances of the law. He has been completely evasive, he said.

Kapil Sibal earlier said that this is the case which has nothing to do with evidence but with something else. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, has told the court that the chargesheet was not filed in the case but the gravity of the matter should be considered.

Sibal argued that the first arrest in the case was of Bhaskar Raman, chartered accountant of Karti, who is presently out on bail. Besides that, Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, also accused in the case, are out on default bail as they are in jail in connection with another matter, Sibal said. He contended that grant of bail was a rule and the issue before the court was of personal liberty. Sibal was countering the 5-day custodial interrogation of Chidambaram sought by CBI which said it needs to unearth the larger conspiracy.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told the court that the agency was not extorting confession but it has the right to reach the root of the case. Besides Sibal, senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi also appeared for Chidambaram and opposed CBI's plea by saying that the former Union Minister was not a flight risk.

[INX Media: The case that put both Chidambaram and his son Karti in trouble]

Singhvi said that the entire CBI case was based on the statement of Indrani Mukherjea, who has turned approver in the case. He said Chidambaram cannot answer what CBI wants to hear and added that the agency cannot seek remand on the ground of evasive replies. He also argued that there was no allegation of tampering of evidence by CBI.

Singhvi further contended that police remand can only be granted in special circumstances and this was a case where there was no new development. He said the agency was asking Chidambaram only old questions since his arrest on Wednesday night. Mehta countered the arguments made on behalf of Chidambaram, saying that everybody was equal before the court.

Chidambaram's family members, including his wife Nalini and son Karti, were also in the courtroom along with other senior advocates including Dayan Krishnan. Heavy security arrangement has been done outside the courtroom. He was arrested late Wednesday night from his Jor Bagh residence.

[Arrested Chidambaram on Indrani Mukerjea's testimony? Cong questions Modi govt's dependability]

The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX 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 2018.

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