New Delhi(PTI): Karti Chidamabaram will face further custodial interrogation by the CBI for three days in connection with the INX Media corruption case with a court here today extending his police custody till March 12 during which he will be confronted with his chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman.
Special Judge Sunil Rana said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been able to give “sufficient ground and justified reasons” to show that further custody of Karti, who was produced after the expiry of his three-day police custody, was necessary.
The court also kept the bail application of Karti, the son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, for hearing on March 15 after the CBI sought time to file its reply.
The judge allowed the agency to confront him with his chartered accountant Bhaskararaman, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on February 16 and was today sent to judicial custody till March 22 after ED’s counsel Nitesh Rana submitted that the probe was on.
Karti has been in CBI custody since his arrest on February 28. The agency still has the liberty to take three more days of police custody of Karti under the law which mandates 15 days of police remand.
“The CBI has been able to give sufficient ground and justified reasons to show that it is possible to uphold the contention of the CBI that for the purpose of further and complete investigation, further custody of the accused is necessary to ensure continuity and to speed up investigation to secure the evidence, which may be useful at the trial or to arrive at the truth,” the judge said in his order.
The court also directed the investigating officer to get Karti medically examined as per the rules every 24 hours during the custody.
Another application of the CBI, seeking to being Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea, the then promoters of INX Media, to Delhi for the purpose of investigation in the presence of the accused, was dismissed by the court after the agency did not press it.
The judge said that the bail application would be taken up for consideration on March 15 after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to file the reply to the plea.
Karti’s father, P Chidambaram, and his mother Nalini Chidambaram, also a senior advocate, were present in the court room and were allowed to meet him for 15 minutes after the hearing.
During the proceedings, ASG Mehta said Karti’s custodial interrogation was necessary as “new incriminating materials” and documents have been found and there was a need to confront him with them.
He claimed in the court that during a raid conducted the day before yesterday at the Chennai office of Advantage Strategic Pvt Ltd, various incriminating documents were recovered.
The ASG submittted that Karti has so far been maintaining “a false stand” that he was not connected to the firm, but the new documents seized during the raid showed the company belonged to him or his family members and he needed to be confronted with them.
However, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is the party colleague of P Chidambaram, opposed any further custodial interrogation of Karti.
“It’s tragic for me (Karti). They have no new reason for my remand. They are inventing one. The CBI has to justify remand every day and every minute,” Singhvi said on behalf of Karti.
It is a ten-year-old case and all the documents are available with them, he said, contending, “They need my custody to harass me.”
The CBI, however, said that a CD and hard disks have been recovered from the office of Advantage Strategic Pvt Ltd (ASPL) in Chennai in connection with the case which needed to be sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) for examination.
However, Singhvi said it was “astonishing” that they found the address of ASPL, which is the main accused firm in the matter, only two days ago but the case was 10 years old.
“It is astonishing that the CBI filed an FIR in 2017 and has been investigating since then. They claim to have found address of Advantage Strategic Pvt Ltd only two days ago. Either the CBI is doing poor investigation or no investigation. For one year, you (CBI) couldn’t find the firm’s registered office which is your main accused.
“Google shows the address of the company. You (CBI) are supposed to arrest Dawood (Ibrahim). How will you do that. On July 17, 2017, I informed the CBI about the address of the firm. It is tragic for me. They have no new reason for my remand. They are inventing one. It will be travesty of justice. The CBI is a premier agency in our country. They are supposed to be independent and not lean in anyone’s favour,” he said.
The ASG termed it a typo (error) in the CBI’s remand application with regard the company’s address issue and said what the agency meant was the “incriminating material” recovered from the ASPL office.
Singhvi said Karti was being treated in a “shabby manner” which was not expected from the CBI.
“Karti is being treated in a shabby manner. It is not expected form the CBI. The reasons for his custody are spurious and made-up pretences. You can interrogate me (Karti) to your delight but there is no need for custody,” the senior advocate said.