INX Media: Chidambaram denies CBI claim of using FM office for personal gain

The Delhi high court said that Chidambaram is not a 'flight risk' and there is no chance of tampering with evidence but he can influence the witnesses if granted bail. Photo: PTI File.

Rejecting all the charges levelled against him by the CBI in the INX Media corruption case, veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram, denied in the Delhi High Court on Monday (September 23) that he used the office of finance minister for personal gain.

In a rejoinder to CBI’s reply on his bail plea, Chidambaram asserted that he did not use his office for personal gains in connivance with his co-conspirators and claimed there was no loss to the public exchequer in this case. “No public funds were involved in this case and it is not a case of bank fraud or taking money out of the country or defrauding depositors in stealing money,” he said in the reply.

Hitting out at the investigating agency for issuing a look-out circular (LOC) against him he said that it is preposterous to allege that he is a flight risk and can evade the process of law. Denying CBI charges of the present case being a clear betrayal of public trust at large, the former finance minister said that the ₹305 crores which came to INX media as foreign direct investment was well within the approval percentage of 46.216 percent. He also denied in his reply the probe agency’s claim that cogent evidence incriminating him in the offence was on record and a strong case has been made out against him.

Chidambaram said no credibility can be attached to Indrani Muerjea, who has turned an approver in the corruption case, since she and her husband were also being investigated by the CBI in a murder case. Justice Suresh Kait is scheduled to hear Chidambaram’s bail plea later in the day.

CBI in its reply on Friday opposed Chidambaram’s bail plea in the corruption case, saying it is a “gravest case of economic offences” and the magnitude of financial embezzlement and misuse of high public office disentitles him for any relief.

In its written response to Chidambaram’s bail plea, the CBI had said the gravity of offences committed by the former finance minister for which he is being investigated does not entitle him to seek any relief as it would not only be against the zero tolerance policy on corruption but would also be setting a very wrong precedence in all corruption cases. It said the investigation revealed that Chidambaram, as the finance minister, had demanded illegal gratification and the payments were made in India and overseas to him and his accused son Karti. The agency had said despite his arrest, Chidambaram continued to remain evasive while replying the questions put to him during interrogation or confrontation.

Chidambaram, who was arrested on August 21 by the CBI from his Jor Bagh residence here, is currently lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody till October 3. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of ₹305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.