NEW DELHI: Giving no relief to Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, the Supreme Court Friday directed him to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 23 for questioning in the ongoing INX media Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance case.
Interestingly, Karti Chidambaram who was avoiding the CBI summons so far was seen in court Friday. His father was also present during the hearing.
A bench of Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and justice D Y Chandrachud gave Karti permission to take with him his advocate, who will be sitting in a room adjoining the one where the questioning will take place. During the hearing, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam appeared on behalf of Karti and told the bench about the merits of the case.
This led the CJI to observe, “So your submission is that you are so clean that you will not appear before the IO?” “No there is no unwillingness on my part to appear. I have appeared in the past,” Subramaniam replied.
“We are not interested on satisfying ourselves with the merits of the case against you. That’s the job of the investigating officer,” CJI said. But Subramaniam retorted, “I am prepared to appear even today. But I want protection. I want a lawyer within hearing distance.”
Karti alleged that he was being unnecessarily harassed and that the real target was his father.
Subramaniam also said, “It had become the fashion to target the relatives of opposition politicians.” He then asked the bench to consider another plea from Karti for cancelling the Lookout Circular against him.
Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta appeared on behalf of the CBI and told the bench that, “The LOC is intended to prevent an accused from evading arrest. It is a softer option available with us. The purpose of the LOC is fulfilled once he appears before the IO.”
The court slated the hearing for a review of the LOC on September 1 and clarified that the Madras HC was free to decide his petition seeking quashing of the CBI’s FIR accusing him of corruption. The case pertains to an FIR filed on May 15 against Karti and INX Media along with eight others for alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance given to the media house for FDI in 2007.