The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed Mr. Karti Chidambaram to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the INX media case, staying a Madras High Court order which had allowed him to travel abroad.
The High Court had stayed the look-out circulars issued by the CBI against Mr. Chidambaram, who is former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s son.
In response to his submission that he had no intention of going abroad, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar remarked, “We are not considering whether he is guilty or not. We are considering a small issue. Has he so far participated in the probe? The answer is no. Why have you not appeared even once before CBI? You have disobeyed notices. We don't trust you. You must appear before investigators to show bonafide. They (CBI) had the option of seizing Karti's passport and arresting you (Karti) but it has done neither.”
Looking back at such permissions given to people in the past, the CJI added, “We have had very bad experiences of allowing people to go abroad, and they never come back. You must participate in the probe. How will it be if people of this country don’t cooperate in probes against them? You must appear before Investigating Officer.”
Thereafter, staying the operation of the High Court order, the Apex Court observed, “Needless to mention, that the proceedings initiated by respondent No.1 (Karti Chidambaram), seeking to assail the First Information Report dated 15.05.2017, pending before the High Court, shall continue, and the Court shall deal with the same in consonance with law, including all objections that may be raised at the behest of the petitioner – Central Bureau of Investigation.”
Mr. Chidambaram is accused of receiving kickbacks amounting to 3.5 crore from a private company, the INX media, in exchange for allowing them to break foreign investment. As per the allegations levelled by the CBI, INX Media had got an approval of receiving Rs. 4.62 crore investment from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The Company, however, received Rs. 305 crore from two companies based in Mauritius, with the companies paying a premium of Rs. 800 per share.
The CBI has alleged that the officials investigating the misappropriation were hushed up through “influence in the finance ministry” while his father, P Chidambaram, was the Finance Minister. The former Minister had, however, denied any such allegations. “I had never allowed any family member to speak to me or to any officer of my ministry on any official matter,” he was quoted as saying.