With a court rejecting his request for protection from arrest, former Union Minister P Chidambaram faces arrest in the INX Media case. Late on Tuesday evening, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) visited Mr Chidambaram’s home and left a notice, asking him to present himself at the agency’s office within two hours of seeing it.
Mr Chidambaram is accused of facilitating the government’s clearance for huge injection of foreign funds to the television company INX Media as Finance Minister in the UPA government, for which his son Karti Chidambaram allegedly received kickbacks.
The case presents a big political twist from 2010, when Mr Chidambaram was Home Minister in the Congress-led government and Amit Shah, who is home minister today, was arrested in an alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat.
The CBI had alleged that Amit Shah, as Home Minister of Gujarat, ordered the extra-judicial killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a petty criminal, his wife, and their friend who was a witness to Sheikh’s killing in 2005. But a court cleared him, saying there was no evidence of his involvement.
Interestingly, the current director of the Enforcement Directorate, SK Mishra, also worked under Mr Chidambaram when he was home minister. But Mr Mishra transferred back to his parent cadre at the time, apparently due to differences with Mr Chidambaram.
If arrested, Mr Chidambaram will be the first senior leader of the Congress to be netted by investigating agencies. None of the leaders accused in other corruption cases – including the 2G scam and the telecom scam, which provided the BJP its hugely successful anti-corruption plank in the 2014 national elections – have been found guilty yet.
In December 2017, the Delhi High Court had acquitted all accused — including former telecom minister, DMK’s A Raja and its key leader Kanimozhi — of corruption and money laundering charges in the 2G spectrum allocation cases.
Currently Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is also being investigated in money laundering and corruption cases. Ratul Puri, the nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, was arrested on Tuesday over allegations of swindling a state-run bank.
The Chidambarams have also come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs. 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal, which involves a clearance of $800 million foreign investment granted to the company in 2006 allegedly in exchange of kickbacks. While the approval was expected to come from a committee headed by the Prime Minister, it illegally came from the finance ministry, the CBI said.