How P Chidambaram's legal team plans to rescue former Finance Minister
Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister has been untraceable since 4:30 pm on Tuesday following the developments in the INX Media case. Earlier on Tuesday, the Delhi High Court dismissed Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea. Following this, teams of CBI and ED officials reached his residence separately but were unable to find Chidambaram, who is also said to have switched off his phones. The ED issued a look-out circular in connection with the case.
However, the Congress leader's counsels are trying to rescue the former Finance Minister from this situation and have approached the Supreme Court. Sources close to his son Karti Chidambaram have told that the legal team will base their case in the Supreme Court on 10 arguments.
Firstly, both the cases - Aircel-Maxis case and INX Media - pertain to events that transpired in 2006-06 and 2007-08 for alleged amounts of Rs 26 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively. The pecuniary limit under the PMLA at that point was Rs 30 lakh. According to the sources, the amounts were received by companies that had neither P Chidambaram nor Karti Chidambaram as shareholders or directors and no public funds were involved.
Chidambaram's legal team is expected to highlight the transactions under question are bona fide transactions and in normal course of business would have no relation to FIPB or any government processes. The legal team is likely to claim the transactions are duly accounted, audited and disclosed in the books of all accounts and all statutory returns are registered and repeatedly scrutinised by the Income Tax department and other investigative agencies.
They would also point out that the CBI and ED have conducted search and seizure operations on four various dates in the residences and offices of the father-son duo. No incriminating information or undisclosed assets were ever found. Both of their assets and liabilities are publicly-available information as both of them are Members of Parliament. They do not own any assets other than those that have been declared in their income tax returns and election affidavits.
P Chidambaram and Karti's full cooperation with CBI and ED on numerous operations would also be brought up as they had provided all the information and documents requested from them.
CBI has not filed a chargesheet and no cognizance has been taken despite the FIRs lodged in 2012 and 2017. Neither is Chidambaram nor any senior official of the FIPB were named as accused.
The legal team is also likely to point out that the ED's case and their claims suffer from inconsistencies. No money trail has been established or linked to P Chidambaram or Karti. Karti has always maintained that he never met Indrani or Peter Mukerjea and this has been corroborated by Peter Mukerjea.
Moreover, the Delhi High Court in its order on March 23, 2018 had observed that no public official has attributed any role to either Chidambaram or his son. The officials, in their statements recorded before the CBI and ED have categorically stated that they were never prevailed upon by Karti or any of his associates to impact their decision and that they were never approached or influenced to scuttle the probe against INX.
They are also likely to raise the point that if the Judge felt that the case was a very serious offence and if P Chidambaram was the 'kingpin', then why was the judgment reserved for seven months from January until August. P Chidambaram was never summoned by the agencies during this period.
Chidambaram's legal team further intends to emphasise that P Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram have been on bail since March 2018. There have been no allegations that they have attempted to tamper with evidence, influence witnesses or are a flight risk. The Supreme Court has deemed it fit to allow Karti to travel abroad on many occasions.