New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the CBI if it was ready to share with Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, the documents the agency submitted to the court in a sealed cover in the lookout circular case.
Karti Chidambram is facing a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his alleged role in facilitating the 2007 Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance for INX Media Ltd when his father P. Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also asked the agency if a Division Bench (two judges) be asked to examine the validity of its lookout circular against Karti Chidambaram.
Asking the CBI to come back with its response on October 9, the court said Karti Chidambram could move the designated court for permission to travel abroad.
The court’s directions came in the course of hearing of a CBI challenge to a Madras High Court order that stayed its lookout circular against Karti Chidambaram which the agency issued to ensure that he did not leave the country.
The top court, by its August 14 order, had restored the lookout circular by putting on hold the High Court order.
“You have to satisfy the court on the evidence collected during the investigation in support of allegation of various wrongdoings by Karti Chidambaram,” the court told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, adding that everything should be on the strength of law and nothing else.
Mehta told the court that Karti Chidambaram had gone aboard twice — in May and June — and used his visits to tamper with evidence in the case.
Pointing to alleged involvement of Karti Chidambaram in various wrongdoings, Mehta said: “These are not based on statements by people. These are based on contemporaneous official records.”
“If he is permitted to go out of India, he will return. He may return, I presume,” Mehta said and then pointed to the FIR in the INX Media case and said that an FIR was a starting point in any case.
As the Additional Solicitor General claimed that Karti Chidambaram held several undisclosed assets, the latter’s counsel Kapil Sibal asked him to show at least one such property.
Sibal told the court that the case before it rests on a particular transaction wherein Advantage Strategic Consultant company was paid Rs 10 lakh allegedly for facilitating FIPB clearance to INX Media.
Sibal said that though his client was not even a shareholder in the company, he was projected as alleged beneficiary of the said payment.
Sibal said his client may be involved in alleged violation of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act or other laws, but evidence collected in those cases can’t be brought before the court in the matter relating to INX Media for sustaining the lookout circular.
When the court questioned him on this count, Sibal said: “That is the problem of criminal law. A lookout circular is for a particular transaction. You can’t justify that lookout circular on the strength of material the CBI is producing now.”
Justifying the continued operation of the lookout circular against Karti Chidambaram, the CBI had on September 22 told the apex court that he held several overseas accounts in which he had transferred money.
During the September 11 hearing, the agency indicated that Karti Chidambram had 25 offshore properties.
Karti Chidambram denied it and told the apex court that the CBI should disclose any of the overseas assets allegedly held by him or his family and seize them.
Karti Chidambaram is alleged to have received Rs 3.5 crore from Mumbai-based INX media, now 9X Media, for helping it get FIPB clearance when it was run by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, both accused in the Sheena Bora murder case.
The FIR in the case does not mention Chidambaram senior, though it said he cleared the FIPB approval for Rs 4.62 crore of Foreign Direct Investment in the firm at an FIPB meeting on May 18, 2007.
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