CHENNAI: “After the bitter experience it has gained from the matter relating to Vijay Mallya, who had flown to the United Kingdom to evade arrest, we want to remain doubly vigilant with Karti, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram,” said the CBI in the counter-affidavit filed in Madras High Court on Monday.
The counter was in response to a writ petition from Karti challenging the LOC of Immigration Department dated July 18 last. Justifying the LOC, Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan, representing the CBI, said the government, after the experience in Mallya case, has specifically instructed Immigration Department to monitor the movement of persons involved in economic offences and ensure they do not abscond.
Objecting to the comparison, Karti’s senior counsel Satish Parasaran contended that the reference or comparison is totally unwarranted, as the action of Mallya is in no way connected to this case. The government is harassing the petitioner through such circulars which are usually issued against terrorists and absconding criminals.
The petitioner is very well available and he is constantly replying to the summons. Even during the date of issuing LOC, he was right under the nose of the CBI, Satish pointed out.
“The petitioner has so far never appeared before the investigating agency.
He is evading appearance by citing lame excuses. Let him appear or give an undertaking through an affidavit to the court that he would not leave the country. The entire issue would be sorted out,” Rajagopalan retorted.
So far, the CBI has never interfered with Karti’s personal liberty inside India. Only because the CBI was nurturing an apprehension that he would abscond, the LOC has been issued.
“What is the guarantee that he would return to India if allowed to travel abroad?” Rajagopalan asked.
Satish replied that issuing LOC is not a matter of routine in an investigation. It is not issued in all cases and it should be on the objective and subjective satisfaction. Petitioner was refused even a copy of the LOC, he contended.
Rajagopalan said that it is a confidential document which cannot be furnished to Karti. Justice M Duraiswamy, however, said that the accused is entitled to a copy of LOC and directed the CBI to provide a copy of the same to the petitioner.
And the ASG served a copy of the LOC to the petitioner. Recording the same, the judge then posted the plea to August 10 for further hearing.
The issue pertains to an FIR filed on May 15 against Karti and INX Media along with eight others for the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to the media house for foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2007.
The CBI had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house was “fallacious” but former Union Finance Minister Chidambaram had cleared it. Claiming that Karti has evaded appearance on the summons issued by the CBI in connection with the case, the LOC was issued.