A day after securing bail from the Delhi High Court in INX Media case, Karti Chidambaram today got another relief from a city court which granted him protection from arrest till April 16 in Aircel-Maxis matter arising out of the 2G spectrum cases lodged by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Special Judge O P Saini granted the relief to him considering that both the investigative agencies sought three weeks to file their responses on the anticipatory bail plea moved by Karti, son of former union minister P Chidambaram.
The court, which pronounced the order in a packed courtroom, also said that Karti shall not leave the country without its permission and will appear before the investigating officer as and when directed to join the investigation.
“Since three weeks’ time is prayed for by the CBI, by submitting that during this period law shall prevail, apparently it means that as a matter of legal and judicial propriety, the applicant (Karti) shall not be arrested by the CBI during the pendency of the instant application. This is in consonance with the provisions of section 41A of the CrPC.
“Accordingly, it is directed that in case presence of the applicant is required by the IO during three weeks’ time prayed for by the senior PP for the CBI, he shall appear before the IO as and when directed and shall join the investigation,” the judge said. An identical order was passed in the ED case too.
“Put up the application for reply by the CBI/ED and disposal on April 16 as prayed. Till then, the applicant shall not be arrested in the instant case,” the judge said in the orders.
Arguing in the CBI case earlier in the day, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Karti, said that there was neither any allegation against Karti in the Aircel Maxis case nor there was anything to show that he knew the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) officials.
He argued that Karti’s name has not figured in any FIR in the case and he was only called by the CBI as a witness in 2014.
“I am entitled to protection till the time they (CBI) demonstrate anything against me in the court,” Sibal said.
Opposing his contention, CBI public prosecutor K K Goel said the application of Karti was defective and not maintainable for interim relief.
In the ED case, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, also appearing for Karti, argued that Karti has cooperated in the other matters as well and there was no question that he would flee the county or tamper with evidence.
ED counsel Nitesh Rana too opposed the anticipatory bail plea and said Karti’s counsel have failed to demonstrate on what basis he apprehends his immediate arrest in the case.
“The application is wholly without merit,” he said while seeking three weeks time to reply to the plea.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, also a senior advocate himself, was present in the court room along with his wife Nalini Chidambaram seeking relief for his son. Both were in advocate’s attire. While senior Chidambaram wore black coat and trousers, Nalini was seen wearing an advocate’s black robe.
Besides them, a battery of senior lawyers appeared in the court for Karti, including Sibal, Subramanium, Salman Khurshid, also a Congress leader, and Mohit Mathur to secure anticipatory bail for him.
During the hearing, Sibal also referred to the February 2, 2017 verdict of the court which had discharged former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi in the Aircel Maxis case and said after this order, no FIR was lodged by the agencies.
Hours after being granted bail by the Delhi High Court in the INX media case, Karti had yesterday filed a plea seeking protection from arrest in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have lodged cases in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
The matter pertains to grant of FIPB clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd for investment in Aircel.
In September 2015 the CBI had filed its status report regarding probe into FIPB approvals in Aircel Maxis case. The agency had in June 2016 also issued notice to A Palaniappan, director of Chess Management Services, a company promoted by Karti.