New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Karti Chidambaram “is not a terrorist” that he cannot be questioned without taking him in custody, his lawyer told a court on Tuesday after the CBI sought his remand for nine more days to interrogate him and get a confession in the INX Media money laundering case.
A Special Court hearing the case reserved the order till 4.30 p.m. after Karti Chidambaram’s lawyer Abhishek Singhvi opposed the CBI plea, saying his client was cooperating in the investigation.
One of the lawyers for the agency told the court that it had “prima facie material” pointing to Karti Chidambaram’s wrongdoing and that “there is a need for his custodial interrogation” as his previous custody was only for four days.
The CBI submitted documents in the court which it said were related to foreign transactions in the INX Media case involving Karti Chidambaram, the son of Congress leader P. Chidambaram.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is arguing the case for the CBI, alleged that Karti Chidambaram had been tampering with evidences in the case and “if the court extends the custody, then I will get a confession” from him.
He said Karti Chidambaram had refused to share his phone password with his interrogators which “is also a proof” that he was not cooperating.
“I agree that Karti Chidambaram has a right to remain silent. But when relevant questions are asked, he should answer them.”
Singhvi told the court that the accused had already spent five days in the agency’s custody and was confronted with Indrani Mukerjea, a former media executive jailed in a murder case and a witness in the money laundering case, in Mumbai for only 25 minutes.
He contended that the agency had not submitted a single reason why it wants extension of the remand.
The CBI had in the last hearing of the case told the court that Karti Chidambaram was to be confronted with Mukerjea who has allegedly claimed that he demanded $1 million from her and that she had paid him the bribe.
The bribe was allegedly demanded to facilitate a clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for INX Media when P. Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.
Singhvi, also a Congress leader, questioned if Mukherjea’s statement was even admissible in the court. “The law of evidence and Article 21 of the Constitution prevent such statements to be admissible in the court of law.”
He dismissed the CBI contention that Karti Chidambaram was not cooperating. “A custody is given only for if there is a (fear of) fleeing away, tampering with evidence and non-cooperation.”
He said his client returned to India and there was no reason for him to flee as the case is 10-year-old. “There is no chance of tampering with the documents. The extension of police custody application by the CBI does not have any grounds.”
He argued that the CBI has not produced even a single evidence to prove that there has been an attempt to tamper with evidence.
“Karti is not a terrorist with a bomb that he cannot be interrogated without keeping him in custody.”
He said the CBI’s application for further remand didn’t include any reason why the agency was seeking extension of Karti Chidambaram’s custody.
He told reporters later that extension of remand was not automatic, routine or casual. “It has to account for every day, every hour and every minute of the accused in its custody.”
The court allowed Karti Chidambaram to meet his father and mother Nalini for 10 minutes in the court room.