NEW DELHI: A court here today granted protection from arrest till August 7 to former Union minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case filed by the CBI.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini granted the relief to the Congress leader after a plea was moved by him in the morning, seeking anticipatory bail in the case.
The court, meanwhile, granted three weeks to CBI to file a detailed reply to Chidambaram's application and directed the agency not to take any coercive action against him till that time.
The former Finance Minister told the court that he had apprehensions that the CBI might arrest him in the case.
"Nothing is preventing them (CBI) from arresting me (Chidambaram) in the case. I am apprehending arrest in the current matter. They can arrest me as a matter of law. I am made an accused for nothing," senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, said.
He also told the court that the agency had only called Chidambaram for questioning in 2014 and since then he was not asked before it.
The CBI opposed the application by saying it was not maintainable and that the Congress leader did not point out any evidence to show his apprehension of arrest.
It further sought time to file the detailed reply to the application after which the court adjourned the matter till August 7 with directions to the CBI.
Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram were named in the charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case on July 19.
The agency had filed a supplementary charge sheet before the special judge, who had fixed it for consideration on July 31.
The CBI is probing as to how Chidambaram, who was the Union finance minister in 2006, granted a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to a foreign firm when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it.
The senior Congress leader's role has 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 its charge sheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the agency had alleged that Chidambaram had granted an 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 chargesheet were discharged by the special court, which had said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also probing a separate money-laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which Chidambaram and Karti have been questioned by the agency.
Both Chidambaram and Karti have denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED.