The Delhi High Court today ordered day-to-day hearing from April 13 of the Enforcement Directorate’s plea challenging the anticipatory bail granted to former finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case.
The high court also listed for the same day the CBI and ED pleas challenging the trial court’s order discharging former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and others in the same case.
“List these matters for day to day hearing on April 13,” Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma said.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the probe agencies, urged the court to take up the three petitions on a day-to-day basis as they involve an important question of law.
He said the three matters be heard together as the FIR and foundation of the case are common.
However, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, representing the Chidambarams, said their case was not connected with Maran’s and they be heard separately.
The court said this issue will be considered when it hears the matter.
Before Chidambaram and his son were made accused in the Aircel Maxis case, a special court had on February 2, 2017 discharged DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others.
The ED and the CBI later filed supplementary charge sheets naming the Chidambarams in the alleged scam.
The Chidambarams were granted anticipatory on September 5, 2019.
The ED said the trial court failed to appreciate that custodial interrogation of the accused was required and its finding the offence not grave enough was completely perverse and untenable in law.
The ED counsel had referred to the trial court’s order that the allegations against Chidambarams are not of grave magnitude as the alleged money laundered is about Rs 1.13 crore which is a paltry amount compared to allegations against Dayanidhi Maran and others, where the bribe amount was claimed to stand at Rs 749 crore but he (Dayanidhi) was not arrested.
He had contended that in the Aircel-Maxis case, the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval was sought for Rs 3,500 crore which was beyond the jurisdiction of the finance minister, still it was approved by Chidambaram.
The trial court had also granted anticipatory bail to the father-son duo in the Aircel Maxis case filed by the CBI.
The ED, in its plea, has contended pre-arrest bail in a case of economic offence was unwarranted and urged the high court to set aside the trial court’s order granting the relief to the Chidambarams and cancel their anticipatory bail.
The CBI is probing how Chidambaram, being the finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it.
The ED is probing a money laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter.
The ED has also challenged the special court’s order discharging Maran brothers and others in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.
Similarly, the CBI has also challenged the special court’s discharge order, saying there was overwhelming evidence against Marans.
In 2006, Maxis Berhad, owned by Ananda Krishnan, a Malaysian citizen of Sri Lankan Tamil descent, had taken over Aircel, founded by entrepreneur C Sivasankaran, by acquiring a 74% stake.
The Aircel-Maxis deal had come under the scanner in 2011 when Sivasankaran lodged a complaint with the CBI alleging he was pressured to sell his stake to Maxis. Sivasankaran also claimed former Union minister Dayanidhi and his industrialist brother Kalanithi received kickbacks in the form of Maxis group’s investments in the Sun TV Network, which is owned by the Maran family.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy later alleged that a company controlled by Karti Chidambaram had in 2006 received a 5 per cent stake in Aircel in return for getting Maxis to pay Rs 40 billion for 74 per cent shares of Aircel.
Swamy claimed Chidambaram withheld FIPB clearance for the deal until his son received the 5 per cent share in Sivasankaran’s company.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)