|21 August, 2019

Indian airports on alert: Former Finance Minister cannot leave country

Chidambaram’s lawyer insisted the lookout notice stems from political vendetta as the former Minister is not a flight risk

India's Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram speaks during a news conference in New Delhi March 31, 2014. India will consider easing curbs on gold imports in consultation with the central bank, Chidambaram told a news conference on Monday. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

India's Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram speaks during a news conference in New Delhi March 31, 2014. India will consider easing curbs on gold imports in consultation with the central bank, Chidambaram told a news conference on Monday. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

Indian’s Former Union Minister P Chidambaram cannot leave the country. All airports, immigration desks have been put on high alert, as the Enforcement Directorate has issued a Lookout Circular against him terming the Congress laeder a “flight risk”.

The development came as a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice N V Ramana on Wednesday refused to grant interim relief from arrest to the former Finance Minister and referred the matter to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for urgent hearing on his anticipatory bail plea in the INX Media case.

Chidambaram’s lawyer insisted the lookout notice stems from political vendetta as the former Minister is not a flight risk.

Already teams of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate have been making rounds of his Jor Bagh residence here ever since the Delhi High Court denied him anticipatory bail on Tuesday.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has told the top court that this is a case of “monumental money laundering”. While the high court had termed Chidambaram the “kingpin” in the INX Media case.

Chidambaram has challenged the Delhi High Court order which has rejected his anticipatory bail plea on Tuesday.

Responding to a CBI notice pasted outside the Chidambaram”s residence later on Tuesday, one of the lawyers of the Congress leader told the agency on Wednesday that it has not mentioned the provision of law under which it was issued.

Arshdeep Singh Khurana said in a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): “Your notice fails to mention the provision of law under which my client has been issued a notice to appear within two hours.

“Furthermore, my client is exercising the rights available to him in law and had approached the Supreme Court on August 20 seeking urgent relief in respect of the order dismissing his anticipatory bail (in INX media case).

“He (Chidambaram) has been permitted by the Supreme Court to mention the urgent special leave petition against the order before court… I, therefore, request you not to take any coercive action against my client till then.”

On January 25, the Delhi High Court reserved order on Chidambaram”s bail plea in the case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate and the the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The investigating agencies had opposed Chidambaram”s bail plea, saying that custodial interrogation of the former Finance Minister was necessary as he was evasive and had given false information during his questioning.

The ED and the CBI are probing how his son Karti Chidambaram managed to get clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in 2007 when his father was the Finance Minister.

Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018 by the CBI for allegedly accepting money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media. He was later granted bail.

His chartered accountant S. Bhaskararaman was also arrested and released on bail later.

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