A Delhi court on Tuesday extended till July 10, the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union Minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel Maxis money laundering case.
Chidambaram on Tuesday appeared before the ED in connection with the case. He arrived at the agency's headquarter annexe office in New Delhi at about 10:58 am and was accompanied by a lawyer.
Special Judge O P Saini passed the order after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought more time to file a detailed reply to Chidambaram's plea seeking anticipatory bail in the case.
The former finance minister, also the ex-home minister, had last week approached the court seeking relief from arrest by the ED in this case.
Senior advocate Sonia Mathur and advocate Nitesh Rana moved the plea on behalf of the ED, saying the agency needed four weeks time to file a detailed reply.
At this, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and advocate P K Dubey, appearing for Chidambaram, requested the court to fix the matter to July 10 when the court is already scheduled to hear the anticipatory bail plea of Chidambaram's son Karti in the same case.
The senior Congress leader had on May 30 moved his plea for anticipatory bail in the Aircel Maxis money laundering case.
In his plea, Chidambaram said all the evidence in the matter appears to be documentary in nature which is already in the possession of the incumbent government and nothing was to be recovered from him.
The ED had issued a fresh summon to him on Monday to appear before the investigating officer of the case.
The agency is expected to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Chidambaram's role has come under the scanner in the Rs 3,500 crore Aircel-Maxis deal in which the ED has already questioned his son, Karti.
The court has already granted interim protection from arrest till July 10 to the former minister's son Karti in two cases filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and ED in 2011 and 2012, respectively in the Aircel-Maxis matter arising out of 2G spectrum cases.
The relief was granted to Karti after the ED sought time to argue on his application seeking anticipatory bail.
The ED had first asked the senior Chidambaram to appear before it on May 30 and on the the same day he knocked on the court's door.
The court, in its order on May 30, had noted that Chidambaram has undertaken to comply with the summons issued by the ED while saying he apprehended his arrest by the agency.
The Aircel-Maxis cases pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd in 2006 for investment in Aircel.
The Supreme Court had on March 12 directed investigating agencies -- the CBI and the ED -- to complete their probe into the 2G spectrum allocation cases, including the Aircel Maxis alleged money laundering case, in six months.
The agency had said FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March 2006 by Chidambaram even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore and beyond that it required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
The ED is investigating ‘the circumstances of the FIPB approval granted (in 2006) by the then finance minister’.
‘In the instant case, the approval for FDI of 800 million USD (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, the CCEA was competent to grant the approval.’
‘However, the approval was not obtained from the CCEA,’ the ED had alleged.
The agency said its probe revealed that the case of the said FDI was ‘wrongly projected as an investment of Rs 180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny’.
The senior Chidambaram had earlier described the ED action in this case as a "crazy mixture of falsehoods and conjectures" and said that the charge sheet filed by probe agencies had been rejected by the court.
However, the agencies have maintained that the FIR in the case has not been quashed.
In September last year, the ED had attached assets worth Rs 1.16 crore of Karti and a firm allegedly linked to him in connection with this case.