In a huge setback, Congress leader and former Finance minister P Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail was rejected on Thursday. Chidambaram was arrested by CBI on August 21, midnight and had since been under CBI remand.
His arrest is in connection with alleged charges of corruption in the INX Media case. The case accuses Chidambaram of giving illegal clearance to INX group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, while he was serving as the Finance minister.
Here is all you need to know about the case:
INX Media or 9X Media is India’s largest music broadcaster operating 6 music television channels and a Bollywood news portal – www.spotboye.com. The six music channels are 9XM (Latest Bollywood), 9X Jalwa (Evergreen Hindi), 9X Jhakaas (Marathi), 9X Tashan (Punjabi) and 9XO (English).
The company was founded by Indrani Mukerjea in 2007 through two companies, INX Media Pvt Ltd and INX News Pvt Ltd. In March 2009, chairman & Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) Peter Mukerjea and founder & CEO Indrani Mukerjea left their management roles at INX Media.
It was later acquired by Zee Entertainment Enterprises in October 2017 for the cost of 160 crore.
What is INX Media Scam?
Links to Karti Chidambaram
Years later, the Enforcement Directorate, while investigating a company owned by Karti Chidambaram came across a document linked to INX Media in the computer of his CA Bhaskarraman.
The documents procured by ED suggested payments made by INX group to the above-said company of Karti, at around the same time that the Finance Ministry granted it the FIPB approval.
Following this, CBI took up a case of alleged corruption and ED booked a case alleging money laundering against Karti. They also searched premises linked with both father and son.
Karti who is currently the Lok Sabha MP for Congress from Sivaganga was arrested by CBI in February last year, however, was granted bail by the Delhi High Court.
Indrani, Peter Mukerjea and the Scam
Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea the founders of INX media have been accused of entering a conspiracy with Karti Chidambaram in order to get foreign investments and evading issues that might arise for not having FIPB approvals.
According to the CBI, in its application to FIPB in 2007, the media company also mentioned its intention to “make a downstream financial investment to the extent of 26 per cent of the issued and outstanding equity share capital of INX News Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of INX Media”.
In a statement given to the CBI, in March 2018, Indrani said that she had agreed to pay 1 million dollars to Karti Chidambaram to secure FIPB approval in favour of INX Media. She also prayed for pardon in the case in 2019 and offered to exchange complete details and true disclosure which was accepted by the Delhi High Court.
The ED has attached properties worth Rs 54 crore belonging to Karti Chidambaram in connection with the case. The agency has also attached properties belonging to Indrani and Peter Mukerjea.
Noose Tightens around Chidambaram
Chidambaram applied for an anticipatory bail in both the cases of Enforcement Directorate and the CBI in 2018. The Delhi high court granted bail in both the cases.
However, in July 2019, as Indrani Mukerjea turns approver, the noose tightened around P Chidambaram.
On August 20, 2019, the HC dismissed his anticipatory bail pleas and also declined his request to stay the order for 3 days which would enable him to appeal him in the Supreme Court.
The next day on August 21st Chidambaram was arrested.
Hearing his plea for anticipatory bail, a bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna said it was not a fit case for anticipatory bail as it could hamper the investigation. Chidambaram had moved the Supreme Court after the plea was rejected by the Delhi High Court on August 20.
In the Court, the Enforcement Directorate said that it required Chidambaram’s custody as money laundering was an offence against “society and nation”. It also informed that they had materials to “show that laundering of money continued after 2009 and even today” in the INX Media case
Meanwhile, the top court allowed Chidambaram to withdraw his plea against a non-bailable warrant and remand orders issued by a special CBI judge in the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI. On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said CBI did not want Chidambaram’s custody anymore.