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Aircel-Maxis matter a saga of motivated probe, P Chidambaram tells court

twitter-logoPTI | August 1, 2019 | Updated 20:32 IST

(Eds: Adding details from the argument) New Delhi, Aug 1 (PTI) Former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti told a Delhi court on Thursday that Aircel-Maxis matter was "a saga of a motivated investigation" and that the CBI and ED had no ground for their arrest. The father-son duo made submissions during hearing of their anticipatory bail applications in the cases by both the agencies in the matter before special judge O P Saini, who extended till August 9 the interim protection from arrest granted to them. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambarams in the corruption case lodged by the CBI and the money laundering case filed by the ED, told the court that the investigation against them was already complete in both the matters and no purpose will be served by taking them in custody. The protection from arrest was extended after the arguments on their applications remained inconclusive as CBI and ED, represented by senior advocate Sonia Mathur and advocates N K Matta and Nitesh Rana respectively, sought time to argue the matter further citing non-availability of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who had to start the arguments. While seeking the relief, Sibal said: "Investigation is complete in our case. Not a single person was arrested in the case while the probe was on. Charge sheets filed in both cases. More than a year has passed. There is no ground to deny me (accused) bail. "There is no allegations of tampering. It is not that I will flee. Both are Members of Parliament. Entire record is documentary. No allegation so far that I approached any witness or tried to influence the probe." He opposed ED's earlier submission that Karti was trying to tamper with the evidence whenever he goes abroad. "Every time when I (Karti) went abroad it was with Supreme Court order. They (agencies) are making it a ground to deny the bail. That cannot be a ground. While I am abroad, they issue me summons and on non appearance they make it a ground," Sibal said. "If my aide, Bhaskaraman is not appearing, it becomes ground to deny me bail? He was not arrested in the case either. He didn't appear because his wife was ill. He is independent CA anyway," he said. He added that the accused has appeared before ED multiple times. "There is factual error in ED's reply where it was stated that he (Karti) left the questioning mid way. Why was not any application filed before court in that regard? This is not a case where I am not cooperation with probe... Its a saga of a motivated investigation... If they want me to appear again, I will appear in both the cases." Before the arguments began in the matter, the agencies, also represented by advocates Noor Rampal and A R Aditya, sought an adjournment in both the cases, saying that the Solicitor General was busy in a matter before the Chief Justice of India, which may extend beyond next week. "We are making efforts to bring more evidence in the case," the agencies said. The defence, however, vehemently opposed the adjournment being sought, saying that the agencies were "repeatedly seeking adjournments". "They are just dragging the matter. He (SG) is not the only lawyer busy in this country. The court's roaster are not going to be decided by SG's convenience," said the accused, also represented by advocates P K Dubey and Arshdeep Singh. The court will now hear the matter on August 9. The case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal. The father-son duo were given interim protection from arrest by the court after they filed anticipatory bail applications in the case. Their protection from arrest has been extended from time to time. Chidambaram and Karti were named in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the case on July 19 last year. The 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. 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. Chidambarams 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. PTI UK SA

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