NEW DELHI — Hours after the Delhi High Court refused former Union finance minister P Chidambaram to grant any protection from arrest in the INX Media case, the CBI issued a notice to him asking him to appear before the investigation officer “within two hours”, after failing to find him at his residence.
Both CBI and ED officers reached Chidambaram’s Jor Bagh residence on Tuesday evening but did not find him there.
The CBI team left the premises after confirming that Chidambaram was not present at the address, officials told PTI.
“We are looking for him, our teams have fanned out across the city. If we find him tonight, he will be arrested,” an ED official told the Indian Express.
Early Wednesday morning, Chidambaram’s lawyer Arshdeep Singh Khurana wrote to the CBI saying, “I am instructed to state that your notice fails to mention the provision of law under which my client has been issued a notice to appear within 2 hours.”
“Furthermore, my client is exercising the rights available to him in law and had approached the Supreme Court on August 20 seeking urgent reliefs in respect of the order dismissing his anticipatory bail (in the INX media case).
He has been permitted by SC to mention the urgent Special Leave Petition against the order before Court at 10:30 am today. I, therefore, request you not to take any coercive action against my client till then and await for the hearing at 10:30 am.”
The CBI team, which had some superintendent of police-rank officials, did not make clear if they had gone to his residence to arrest him for alleged irregularities in foreign investment clearance to INX Media during his tenure as finance minister.
The officials returned to the CBI headquarters where they got into a huddle with senior officers of the agency to decide the future course of action, the officials said.
Team of officials returned to his residence and pasted a notice asking Chidambaram to appear before R Parthasarthy, CBI Deputy SP, who is probing the case to record his statement under Section 161 of the CrPC.
Chidambaram is likely to seek protection from arrest from the Supreme Court Wednesday morning.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant any protection to Chidambaram from arrest by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
He failed to get an audience from Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday for urgent hearing of his appeal in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.
A team of lawyers led by senior advocate and Chidambaram’s party colleague Kapil Sibal was told by the registrar (judicial) to mention the petition on Wednesday morning in the apex court.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister.
Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.
(With PTI inputs)