Amidst high drama in the capital, former Union Minister P Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI from his Jorbagh residence in New Delhi on Wednesday. Officials entered his house, scaling the walls after Chidambaram gave a press conference at the AICC headquarters. He surfaced 27 hours after he left the court on Tuesday.
There was high drama outside and inside Chidambaram's house for almost an hour as Congress supporters, media and CBI and ED officials descended there. After scaling the walls of the house, the CBI officers went in to meet Chidambaram. He was reportedly in the house with his lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal. Around 9.45pm he was finally brought outside in a car. Chidambaram was taken to CBI headquarters.
A few hours before his arrest, Chidambaram spoke to reporters from the headquarters of the Congress party on Wednesday evening, when he said, ".. to win freedom, we must struggle. To preserve freedom too, we must struggle,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIn the INX media case, I have not been accused of any offence. Nor is anyone else including any member of my family been accused of any offence.‚ÄĚ Stating that the CBI and ED have not filed any chargesheet before the court, he said that the FIR recorded for the CBI does not include his name for any wrongdoing.
Calling those who claim that he and his son Karti Chidambaram had committed offences as ‚Äėpathological liars‚Äô, he said, ‚Äú‚Ä¶today the whole day, I was with my lawyers following the proceedings in the Supreme court. I was aghast when I was accused of hiding from the law. On the contrary, I was seeking the protection of the law.‚ÄĚ
Countering the accusations of him running away from justice, P Chidambaram said that he was in pursuit of justice and not running away from it. ‚ÄúI bow down to the orders of the Supreme Court. Between now and Friday, I shall walk with a clear conscience and with my head held high. I shall respect the law, even if it is applied with an unequal hand by the investigating agencies,‚ÄĚ he stated. After the press conference, Chidambaram reached his house, only to be followed by the officials from the CBI and the ED.
The press conference came hours after the Supreme Court refused to grant an urgent hearing of his bail plea after the Delhi High Court had rejected his plea for anticipatory bail on Tuesday. The Congress leader‚Äôs legal team, led by former Union Minister and senior counsel Kapil Sibal, sought an urgent hearing before the Bench of the Chief Justice of India, which was hearing the Ayodhya dispute. However, the Principal bench of the apex court refused to hear the plea on Wednesday.
The developments in the INX Media case come even as a lookout notice for Chidambaram has been issued by the Enforcement Directorate. On Tuesday, CBI and ED sleuths visited the Jor Bagh residence of the senior leader in New Delhi. A circular was reportedly pasted at his residence which asked him to appear before the authorities within two hours of its receipt. On Wednesday, Chidambaram‚Äôs legal team first approached the Justice NV Ramana Bench, seeking protection. Denying interim relief to P Chidambaram, the Bench has reportedly assured Chidambaram's lawyers that the case would be sent to the CJI for urgent hearing.
According to NDTV, his petition says that Chidambaram is a law-abiding citizen. Arguing that custodial interrogation is not warranted, the petition states, ‚ÄúThe petitioner is a law-abiding citizen and has reputation to sustain in the society. He is a sitting Member of the Rajya Sabha. The antecedents of the Petitioner are impeccable. He has never been an accused of any offence. There is no possibility of his fleeing from justice.‚ÄĚ (sic)
The INX Media case relates to what the CBI has called ‚Äėa monumental magnitude of money laundering.‚Äô It dates back to 2007 when INX Media applied for clearance with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) on March 15 that year. P Chidambaram was the Union Minister of UPA I at the time. INX Media had sought this approval in order to operate and broadcast a bouquet of channels including Hindi entertainment channel, and multiple vernacular entertainment channels. According to the CBI, the Board in its meeting on 18 March, 2007 approved an FDI inflow of Rs 4.62 crore against INX Media. It did not, however, approve the downstream investment by INX Media in INX News.
The CBI alleges that in order to wiggle out of the situation without any punitive action, INX Media entered into a criminal conspiracy with P Chidambaram‚Äôs son Karti Chidambaram. Karti too stands accused of receiving kickbacks in exchange for his influence.