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Aircel-Maxis: Chidambaram alleges CBI harassment; court extends interim protection from arrest

twitter-logoPTI | March 25, 2019 | Updated 21:22 IST

(Eds: Adding details from hearing) New Delhi, Mar 25 (PTI) Former Union minister P Chidambaram Monday accused the CBI before a Delhi court of harassing him by repeatedly seeking dates to advance arguments on his anticipatory bail plea in the Aircel-Maxis case. Special Judge O P Saini extended till April 26 the interim protection from arrest granted to the senior Congress leader and his son Karti after their counsel told the court that the CBI be given whatever time it wanted but arguments should start on the next date of hearing. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal for the father-son duo claimed that CBI has failed to disclose any information to prove the allegations against the Chidambarams in the case, filed by the CBI and the ED. "This is harassment of the highest order and how many times will CBI do this," Sibal said. CBI claimed non-cooperation by the Chidambarams and sought three weeks from the court to advance arguments on the ground that further investigation was required. The case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal. The Congress leader had earlier also accused the two agencies of "delaying" the cases and had sought an early hearing on the bail pleas as well as the charge sheet filed in the cases. The father-son duo had approached the court through advocates P K Dubey and Arshdeep Singh seeking anticipatory bail, claiming that they were afraid of arrest in both the cases being probed by the ED and the CBI. Their protection from arrest has been extended from time to time. The CBI had earlier informed the court that the Centre has granted sanction to prosecute five people, including serving and former bureaucrats, accused in the case including the Chidambarams. CBI had on November 16 last year informed the court that similar nod was procured for Chidambaram. There are 18 accused in the case. Chidambaram and Karti were named in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the case on July 19 last year. CBI is probing how Chidambaram, when finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it. CBI and ED, in their replies to the anticipatory bail pleas, had told the court that custodial interrogation of both the accused was required since various new materials have surfaced after filing of the charge sheet, alleging that they were not cooperating in the probe. The father-son duo had denied the allegations of both the agencies that they were evasive and non-cooperative during the probe in the case. They have come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore. In the charge sheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the CBI alleged that Chidambaram granted FIPB approval in March 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis. The Maran brothers and the other accused named in the CBI charge sheet were discharged by the special court, which said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial. The ED is also probing a separate money laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which the Chidambarams have been questioned by the agency and their anticipatory bail is pending. PTI URD SKV SA

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