NEW DELHI: Former Union minister P Chidambaram, arrested in the INX Media case, was on Thursday allowed to make a brief submission in the Delhi CBI court despite strong objection from the agency.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, opposed the request saying Chidambaram had a battery of senior lawyers like Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and did not need a “crutch” to argue his case. The judge, who initially asked Chidambaram to inform his lawyer what he wanted to say, relented after Singhvi said it was just a “matter of two minutes”. Chidambaram then told the court that he had answered all the questions put before him by the CBI on 6 June 2018.
Earlier, the Solicitor General sought Chidambaram’s custodial interrogation for five days. But this was opposed by Sibal. Sibal argued that the first arrest in the case was of Bhaskar Raman, CA of Karti, currently out on bail. He said that Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, who are also accused in the case, are out on default bail as they are in jail in connection with another case and said there was no need for custodial interrogation of Chidambaram.
Sibal contended that the grant of bail was a rule and the issue before the court was of personal liberty. Sibal also told the court that Chidambaram never skipped interrogation and was called only once in July 2018 for questioning which he attended and said, “As per the Delhi High Court ruling, investigation is already complete in the case as the draft charge sheet is ready. So what is more to interrogate?”
“Moreover, the FIPB approval is given by six government secretaries, none have been arrested. Chidambaram only acted on their advice which is a procedural task alone,” Sibal argued.
Besides Sibal, senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi also appeared for Chidambaram and opposed the CBI’s plea by saying that the former union minister was not a flight risk and said, “Police custody remand is an exception and not a rule. Silence of an accused in investigation is his right. This is so to provide a vital safeguard against coercive methods used by investigating authorities.”