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Protection from arrest to PC, son in Aircel-Maxis case extended

Last updated on: August 23, 2019 23:15 IST

A Delhi Court Friday extended the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Aircel-Maxis cases till September 3 and pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate for seeking adjournments on the hearing related to their anticipatory bail pleas.

The court said the probe agencies have been seeking adjournments in the cases for over a year and it has become 'embarrassing' to continue with the matter in this manner.

 

It gave ultimatum to CBI and ED that onus is on them to make arguments against the anticipatory bail pleas of the Chidambarams and they have to make their stand clear as soon as possible as the order would be pronounced on September 3.

Special Judge O P Saini rejected the plea and said: "I do not find any merit in the application of agencies to adjourn the matter. Why are you asking adjournments day after day? You are making such arguments for an year.

"Things have become very embarrassing for me. You have been seeking adjournment day after day. Put up for orders for September 3. They can argue before that whenever they may argue."

It said that both the matters -- Aircel-Maxis and INX Media -- were different.

On the arguments made by Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj and senior advocate Sonia Mathur on behalf of the agencies that both cases involved Foreign Investment Promotion Board approvals, the court said there were hundreds of such matters.

P Chidambaram, arrested by the CBI in the night of August 21 in INX-Media case, was sent to the agency's custody till August 26.

In their plea seeking the adjournment, the agencies' lawyers N K Matta and Nitesh Rana said: ‘The issue in the present matter is granting approval and in the INX Media matter also the issue is of FIPB approval.

‘Now the anticipatory bail matters of P Chidambaram in INX Media matter relating to ED and CBI are pending before the Supreme Court and will be listed on August 26. The order passed in INX Media matter may have a bearing on the present matter.’

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, appearing for the father-son duo, opposed the plea for adjournment, and requested the court to give bail ‘since agencies do not want to argue’.

In its order, the court said, "I do not find any merit in the application and the same is dismissed".

It said: "Prosecution is seeking adjournment till Tuesday but there is no ground for adjourning the matter any further as the prosecution has already sought and availed a large number of adjournments.

"Since the accused has already made his submissions on the bail application on August 1 and the prosecution is not willing to make its submissions and is seeking adjournment after adjournment, put up the matter for orders on September 3."

It added that the prosecution is at liberty to make its submissions on ‘any date, at any time, or any working day during working hours before that date. Prosecution is also at liberty to file written submissions, if so desired by them, with advance copy to the opposite party’.

After the court reserved the order, advocate Arshdeep Singh requested the court to extend the protection from arrest to Chidambarams till then, which was allowed.

The cases relate to alleged irregularities in grant of FIPB approval in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal when P Chidambaram was finance minister, ED's advocate A R Aditya said.

The case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The father-son duo was given interim protection from arrest by the court after they filed anticipatory bail applications in the case.

Their protection from arrest has been extended from time to time. The previous extension was ending on Friday.

Chidambaram and Karti were named in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the case on July 19 last year.

The CBI is probing how Chidambaram, when finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it.

The ED is also probing a separate money laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which the Chidambarams have been questioned by the agency and their anticipatory bail is pending.

Chidambarams have come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal as also the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

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