The Enforcement Directorate on Friday gave an oral assurance to the Delhi High Court of not taking any coercive action against Congress MP Karti P Chidambaram till July 12 in a money laundering case being probed by the agency in connection with alleged Chinese viva scam.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju appearing on behalf of Enforcement Directorate told the Court that no action will be taken against Karti till July 12, the next date of hearing in his anticipatory bail plea.
"I will not make a statement but it is understood that nothing will happen till then (the next date of hearing)," Raju submitted.
He added "My understanding is only till 12th."
Accordingly, a vacation bench comprising of Justice Jasmeet Singh adjourned the hearing till July 12 at joint request of both the parties including ED and Karti, and sought a status report to be filed in the matter.
About the Controversy
Karti Chidambaram had approached the High Court after he was denied anticipatory bail by city's Rouse Avenue Court on June 3.
The Trial Court had rejected his plea along with two others after observing that the offence alleged was of a very serious nature. The Court had also vacated the interim protection from arrest granted during the pendency of proceedings.
The Enforcement Directorate had registered the money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, S. Bhaskararaman and Vikas Makharia in the alleged scam concerning the issuance of visas to 263 Chinese nationals in the year 2011 when P Chidambaram, his father, was the home minister.
The ED had registered the case under various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) taking cognisance of an FIR registered by the CBI.
The scheduled offences case of CBI was registered in respect to the allegations of payment of a bribe of Rs.50 lakhs by M/s. Talwandi Sabo Power Limited, a subsidiary company of the Vedanta Group, which was given a contract by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for establishment of a 1980 MW thermal power plant at District Mansa, Punjab and M/s TSPL was in the process of establishing the said power plant with the help of a Chinese Company named M/s Shandong Electric Power Construction Corp (M/s SEPCO).
It was alleged that M/s TSPL was in need of some more Project Visas for Chinese experts from M/s SEPCO as it was running behind its schedule for establishment of the said project and due to this, it was likely to have huge financial repercussions in terms of penalty and interest on bank loans etc.
Project Visas were introduced in October, 2010 as a new type of visa for power and steel sectors only and detailed guidelines governing the issuance of such visas are also stated to have been issued with approval of Sh. P. Chidambaram, the then Union Home Minister, Government of India and it was also alleged that in the said guidelines, there was no provision of re-use of the Project Visas and any deviation from the said guidelines was permitted only in rare and exceptional circumstances with approval of the Union Home Secretary and Union Home Minister.
It had been alleged by the CBI that the accused Vikas Makharia on behalf of M/s TSPL had approached the accused S. Bhaskararaman, who was a close associate of the accused Karti P. Chidambaram, and sought his help in the matter of re-use of Project Visas for his company.
It was also alleged that on directions of the accused S. Bhaskararaman, the accused Vikas Makharia had even sent a copy of the request letter through email to him and the accused S. Bhaskararaman had further forwarded the same to accused Karti P. Chidambaram and after some discussions conducted thereafter with the then Union Home Minister, accused S. Bhaskararaman had demanded an illegal gratification of Rs.50 lakhs for ensuring approval for the above said request and this demand for payment of illegal gratification was accepted by the accused Vikas Makharia.
It was alleged in the CBI case that sufficient documentary evidence existed in the form of e-mails exchanged between the accused Vikas Makharia and accused S. Bhaskararaman on one side and also the accused S. Bhaskararaman and Karti P. Chidambaram on the other to substantiate the allegations of grant of approval for re-use of Project Visas on payment of a bribe of Rs.50 lakhs.
Thus, it was alleged that the above approval of Union Home Secretary and Union Home Minister for the above said proposal was granted in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy hatched between all the above accused persons and some other unknown private persons and public servants and investigation to unearth the above criminal conspiracy and to identify the participants thereof is in progress.
Case Title: Karti Chidambaram v. ED