Former finance minister P Chidambaram, whose son Karti Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI yesterday on charges of corruption, has put out an emphatic defence in court, saying that he was the one who ordered a probe into the company that his son is accused of dealing with.
Karti Chidambaram, 46, is accused by the CBI of facilitating, for a bribe, foreign investment approvals for television company INX Media, when his father was finance minister.
The former Union Minister and his son have denied the allegations, calling it a case of "political vendetta" and pointing that it was Mr Chidambaram, who as Finance Minister in 2013, had first ordered a probe by the Serious Frauds Office into allegations against the INX Group.
"This very fact demolishes the fact that Karti Chidambaram influenced the finance ministry to help INX media," argued a petition before the Madras High Court, where Karti Chidambaram has challenged the CBI's case against him.
The probe was ordered after Vir Singhvi and other senior journalists employed in INX Media complained to then Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who referred it to Mr. Chidambaram.
The report of the Serious Frauds Office to the government in November 2013 indicted the INX Group, the petition says.
The CBI has alleged that Karti Chidambaram helped Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, former media bosses who founded the INX Media group, when it faced questions from the Income Tax Department.
The Mukerjeas have been in jail since 2015 over the murder of Indrani's daughter Sheena Bora.
Indrani Mukerjea has reportedly told the Enforcement Directorate that she and Peter Mukerjea had met P Chidambaram to seek government approval to foreign investment proposals worth around Rs. 300 crore in the company INX Media. The statement, also made separately to the CBI and recorded before a magistrate, links the former Union Finance Minister to the case against his son.
Speaking to media, Karti Chidambaram's lawyer, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said he was "astonished" at Indrani Mukerjea's statements as the information was leaked to the media, but was not presented in court.
In court yesterday, Mr Singhvi also argued that Karti Chidambaram was being targeted because he was the senior Congress leader's son. Karti Chidambaram, he said, was not a director or a shareholder of Advantage Strategic company, one of the companies through which the Mukerjeas had allegedly paid the bribe.