Analysis: INX media case

Chidambaram denied bail by the High Court:

The Delhi High Court denied bail to the former finance minister P. Chidambaram which is a major setback to the Congress leader. “There is no chance of tampering with evidence but there is a possibility that Chidambaram can influence witnesses,” said Justice Suresh Kait during the rejection of the bail petition of the senior leader.

 Mr. P. Chidambaram was accused of corruption in the case of the INX Media issue and was arrested by the CBI on the 21st of August and has been in custody since. Earlier, the Supreme Court refused to give him relief. Later, P. Chidambaram filed a bail petition on September 12 in the Delhi Court stating that this case was a result of “political vendetta”. On August 20, the Delhi High Court rejected the grant petition for protection from the arrest by the CBI in the media case filed by Chidambaram. 

The alleging irregularities in the FIPB authorization settled to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs. 305 crores in 2007 during the tenure of Chidambaram as finance minister, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017. The money laundering case was filed later in this regard in 2017.

Background of the case:

During the period of P. Chidambaram’s in ministry of finance, the CBI filed an FIR against the INX Media regarding the violation of FIPB approval provided to the company and  for obtaining funds overseas to the total amount of Rs 305 crores in 2007.

This was stated back to a case filed in May 2017. In the same year of 2007, the media company obtained the FIPB clearance for the transmission of a bunch of channels but the Foreign Investment Promotion Board did not allow the downstream investment and only approved an FDI of 4.62 crores. This was inferred by the CBI.

The said INX media which is now called 9X media, was a venture promoted by the accused of the famous murder case of Sheena Bora, Peter and Indrani Mukarjea who is currently under arrest for the said case.

Nevertheless, the company went ahead by violating the FIPB approval of making downstream investment in its news channel, INX News, and generated 305 crores in a foreign investment where the approval amount was 4.62 crores.

Key arguments by both the parties:

Arguments of the CBI:

“This is a classic case of money laundering,” Mehta stated. He also argued that the CBI has the right to interrogate and question under the Code of Criminal Procedure. He went on with the point where the case was still at the pre-charge sheet stage and the agency of investigation needed material evidence. The case was held under non-bailable offenses. The probe agencies argued that Chidambaram was not cooperative during the interrogation but was only raising questions.


Arguments of the lawyers of Chidambaram:


Regarding the objection to documents in a sealed cover, the lawyers of Chidambaram argued that the evidence should not be given in a sealed cover which will not allow Chidambaram’s right to respond.

Earlier in the CBI’s argument, it was stated that he was not cooperating with the interrogation, but his lawyers argued that the questions raised by the agency were not actual questions but questions like “do you have a twitter account” which he felt unnecessary to answer.

The next argument was Chidambaram was not initially accused in any of the documents regarding the INX media case but was later added because of political vendetta.

Public reaction:

The AIADMK, ruling party in Tamil Nadu asked the former minister Chidambaram to face the case and not run away. This happened on the day of the issuance of the order by the ED.

The public felt that the activity of using his ministry power to personal gain is a pure betrayal of public trust. This type of offense involving public welfare is considered as the gravest offense of economic transactions and also has the aim of zero tolerance to corruption, which is not fair to the public.

Allegations of political vendetta:

The former Finance Minister Chidambaram alleged that this case is born out of political vendetta where the CBI is acting in favour of the government and the centre. He alleges that this will destroy the reputation of the petitioner which is untainted and unimpeachable.

The agency is taking the side of government which is the position for his, states Chidambaram. Karti Chidambaram, son of former minister Chidambaram, also says that the investigation has arisen out of the political vendetta against his father by the centre. 

Conclusion:

According to sources, Perumal, former secretary of Chidambaram has been asked to join the investigation by the ED and has already been questioned twice before. “It is suspected that KVK Perumal is withholding crucial information which can be helpful in the investigation of the INX Media case. This is why he has been called for questioning,” said the informed source.
The investigative agencies have alleged that P Chidambaram knowingly instructed the then officials to approve the INX media files containing alleged violations in exchange for financial benefits to his son Karti Chidambaram. Both father and son have denied ever meeting Indrani or Peter Mukerjea and favouring the INX media. The Supreme Court therefore has to decide about the rest of the bail and issuance problem in this case.

-This article is brought to you in collaboration with Yazhini Ravi Kumar from Sastra University, Tamil Nadu.

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