P Chidambaram remained away as a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team arrived at his home in Delhi this morning, a day after a court rejected the former Finance Minister’s request for protection from arrest. Last night, the CBI had pasted a notice outside the house asking Mr Chidambaram to appear before them within two hours of receiving the note.
Mr Chidambaram faces arrest in what is dubbed the “INX Media case”, in which he is accused of facilitating foreign investment in a media company as Finance Minister in the Congress-led UPA government at the instance of his son Karti, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role.
On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court rejected Mr Chidambaram’s request for anticipatory bail, saying “prima facie”, the facts of the case revealed that the “petitioner is the kingpin or key conspirator in the case”.
Calling it a classic case of money laundering, Justice Sunil Gaur said: “It was pertinently observed that the economic crimes of such mammoth scale are craftily planned and executed. This grant of bail in cases like instant one will send a wrong message to the society.”
Shortly after the order, a CBI team of six officers showed up at Mr Chidambaram’s home at Jor Bagh in south Delhi. After a few hours, the team left and another from the Enforcement Directorate arrived.
Finally, around midnight, the CBI pasted a notice that read: “Whereas it appears that you are acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case noted below, which I am now investigating under Chapter XII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, you are hereby directed to attend before me within two hours of the receipt of this notice for the purpose of investigation of case.”
This morning, Mr Chidambaram’s lawyer demanded to know from the CBI under what law he had been asked to appear within two hours.
Today, Mr Chidambaram’s legal team of Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi – top lawyers and senior Congress leaders — will approach the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court to request that the High Court order be put on hold.
“Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has asked us to appear before the senior-most judge of the top court in the morning tomorrow,” Kapil Sibal told reporters on Tuesday.
It will be up to the Supreme Court bench to decide whether to take up the case immediately or later.
Mr Chidambaram’s lawyer has asked the CBI not to take any “coercive action” until the hearing.
Significantly, the Supreme Court, in a different case, asserted yesterday that the “rich and powerful” cannot expect the court to direct that a matter will be decided within a particular time frame.
“The rich and powerful come to the court and get a direction that their cases should be decided first. We sitting here will not direct any court in the country, be it high courts or trial courts, to decide a matter within a particular time frame,” said judges Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.
The Congress has accused the government of hounding its top leaders for political vendetta.