23 September 2019
New Delhi: Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Monday questioned the conspiracy charges pressed against him in the INX Media case, asking: "Who have I conspired with?"
Chidambaram is presently lodged in Tihar jail in connection with the INX Media corruption case.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, on Monday asked before a single-judge bench of Delhi High Court as to why the former Finance Minister was being "singled out" when "all the six members of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) were not been made accused".
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving Rs 305 crore overseas funds in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.
During arguments before the bench presided over by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, Sibal asked on behalf of Chidambaram, "What is the 120-B (conspiracy charge) against me? Who have I conspired with?"
Sibal, senior Congress leader and a former Union Minister, said that there were "no proceedings against any of those FIPB officials, so why Chidambaram was being singled out?"
Sibal contended on behalf of the former Finance Minister that there was "no allegation that I (Chidambaram) am influencing them. I have also been confronted with them."
Further, denying the claims of the probe agency that Chidambaram was influencing witnesses, Sibal said that this allegation has only emerged now.
"There is no instance of any attempt to influence witness," Sibal said.
Arguing on the point of the INX Media deal, Sibal said, "The FIPB granted ex-post-facto approval. Nobody has siphoned money out of India. Money has come in the Indian company. What is the loss to the exchequer? The six FIPB members said that the approval was rightly given."
Sibal further told the court that neither the SEBI, nor the RBI issued a notice to INX Media as far as valuation was concerned.
In his rejoinder to the CBI affidavit opposing his bail, Chidambaram has stated that Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, the co-founders of INX Media, are also accused in a murder case, which is being investigated by the CBI and hence, "no credibility can be attached" to their statements.
Chidambaram has also denied that there was betrayal of public trust at large.
"It is further denied that cogent evidence incriminating the petitioner in the present offence is already on record of investigation and a strong case against the accused has been made out by the CBI," the CBI affidavit stated.
In its reply filed before the Delhi High Court on Friday, the probe agency had said that Chidambaram remained "non-cooperative" during the investigation and did not even answer the "basic" questions.
The agency further contended that there was sufficient evidence on record which revealed the role of the ex-Finance Minister in the INX Media case.
The agency said that if Chidambaram was released on bail, he would ensure that the crucial details pertaining to the case were not accessed by the probe agencies.
Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram were named in the case by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently in jail in Mumbai in connection with the murder of Indrani's daughter Sheena Bora.
The ED too had filed a money laundering case against Chidambaram in this regard in 2017.