INX Media Case: CBI Gets Custody of Karti Chidambaram Till 9 March

The CBI asked for further custody of Karti Chidambaram. Here’s what happened at the special court on Tuesday.

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Special CBI judge Sunil Rana, on Tuesday, 6 March, granted the Central Bureau of Investigation custody over Karti Chidambaram for three more days in relation to its investigation into his alleged role in the INX Media case. According to the judge’s order, this is necessary “to ensure continuity and to speed up the investigation to secure the evidence and to arrive at the truth”.

Karti, the son of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, was arrested on 28 February by the CBI upon his return from Europe. The CBI was granted custody of one day, and then for an additional five days, to conduct custodial interrogation. Under the law, the CBI can have custody of the accused for a maximum of 15 days at this stage.


CBI Submits Secret Document With Reasons for Remand

Over the weekend, the CBI took Chidambaram to Mumbai, where he was confronted with a statement from Indrani Mukherjea, former promoter of INX Media, that she had paid him USD 700,000 to get his father to smooth out issues relating to Foreign Direct Investment in INX. Mukherjea is in judicial custody in relation to the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, for which she is one of the CBI’s chief suspects.

The CBI had submitted a new remand application for Tuesday’s hearing, in which it had asked the court to grant it custody over Karti for nine more days. The agency alleged that apart from Indrani’s statement, it had also found new “substantial evidence” against the businessman, including certain things it had discovered over the last 48 hours. These new pieces of information were handed over to the judge in a sealed cover, as the CBI felt that mentioning them in open court could prejudice the investigation.

The CBI has alleged that if Chidambaram were not in their custody, this would cause “serious prejudice” to the investigation. Following on from its allegations in the previous remand application, the CBI alleged that if set free, there is a risk that Chidambaram could tamper with witnesses or evidence crucial to the case.

The agency also argued that Karti has not cooperated with them while in custody. Even when questioned about things like his name, he has allegedly been repeating that he is being “politically victimised”, and has not provided the CBI with the passwords to is phones, etc.


Malafide Attempt to Keep Him in Custody, Says Chidambaram’s Lawyer

Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Karti Chidambaram, said the CBI had failed to provide any good reasons as to why it was necessary for them to retain custody. According to him, the case is a political vendetta, and the CBI is just delaying things, asking for further custody of Chidambaram at each hearing for different reasons.

He quoted several cases to argue that a remand application must disclose cogent reasons for keeping the accused person in custody. The CBI’s opinion is not sufficient, he said, contesting the validity of the secret note provided to the judge. Singhvi argued that the case diary (which the CBI is required to maintain) did not include any material that indicated that Karti needed to remain in detention.

As indicated during the last hearing, Karti Chidambaram expressed (through his lawyers) that he was willing to comply with any conditions the court felt necessary for his release, including going to the CBI headquarters for questioning every day at a fixed time. Singhvi insisted that his client had been cooperating with the CBI, but that he had the right to remain silent under the Constitution, and just because he wasn’t giving the CBI the answers they wanted didn’t mean he was being uncooperative.

Singhvi also attempted to back the application for bail submitted by Chidambaram on Monday. His arguments being essentially the same as those raised to contest further remand. He claimed that Chidambaram was:

  • Not a flight risk, as his return from abroad showed;
  • Not uncooperative, and that he had made himself available even before the arrests anytime the CBI had summoned him;
  • Not going to tamper with evidence or witnesses, and that the CBI had not submitted even a shred of proof to indicate the contrary.

The Order

Though the judge allowed Karti time to meet his parents, who were present in court, and his lawyers, following common practice in such cases, he agreed to the CBI’s request. He did not consider the bail application arguments made on the day, and said that instead he will hear these on 9 March, when the CBI will also respond to this.

Judge Rana had informed the CBI at the beginning of proceedings that it would need to convince him that it was necessary to keep Chidambaram in custody for an additional period, and seems to have felt that the CBI met this standard with whatever information it provided, including the secret note. The only ground mentioned expressly in the remand application was that Chidambaram had been evasive while responding to the questions asked of him.

The CBI asked  for further custody of Karti Chidambaram. Here’s what happened at the special court on Tuesday.
The CBI asked  for further custody of Karti Chidambaram. Here’s what happened at the special court on Tuesday.
The CBI asked  for further custody of Karti Chidambaram. Here’s what happened at the special court on Tuesday.
The CBI asked  for further custody of Karti Chidambaram. Here’s what happened at the special court on Tuesday.
The CBI asked  for further custody of Karti Chidambaram. Here’s what happened at the special court on Tuesday.

Chidambaram was allowed to get medicines as per prescription during the next few days, and was also allowed to get a razor to shave. Other requests were denied.

The order of the special CBI judge comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant Chidambaram any interim protection against summons and arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, earlier in the day. The apex court has agreed to hear his plea to quash the summons on Thursday, 8 March.


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Topics:  Enforcement Directorate   CBI   Chidambaram 

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