CBI questions Chindambaram in INX Media case, further questioning likely

In 2011, when the Central Bureau of Investigation's new headquarters was inaugurated, P Chidambaram as Union home minister was the most important person on the dais, after Manmohan Singh. 

On Wednesday, the Congress leader returned to the same building but had to disembark from his vehicle and wait at the reception to sign the register, as CBI protocol demands.

The former finance minister was then questioned for five hours by agency officials, in connection with the alleged corruption in the INX Media case. 

CBI has said there appear to be irregularities in clearance of foreign investment in INX, a venture promoted by former media baron Peter Mukerjea and wife Indrani Mukerjea.

Chidambaram is alleged to be involved in this; the irregularities, when he was finance minister, are alleged in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance of Rs 3.05 billion given to INX. A case was registered in this regard on May 15 last year.

A senior CBI official didn’t elaborate on what grounds the questioning was done but said Chidambaram was summoned under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Summons are issued under this section when a reasonable complaint is made against a person or investigating agencies find credible information or a reasonable suspicion exists that he or she committed a cognizable offence.

The questioning, in two rounds, was led by Nirbhay Kumar of the agency's economic offences unit. Chidambaram appeared for questioning at 11 am, was questioned for four hours, then left for his residence, returning around 5 pm. He left again at 6 pm. 

The senior CBI official mentioned earlier said the ex-leader might be called for a second round — “We will verify his responses and, if required, he will be called again.” 

Chidambaram has repeatedly stated this is a case of political vendetta, as CBI's First Information Report (FIR) had not named him. On coming out of the CBI headquarters, he said the questioning was based on files and other records of FIPB. “Hence, there was little to add to the record,” he said.

Karti Chidambaram, his son, was arrested in February for allegedly receiving a Rs 10 lakh bribe for arranging government clearance on the foreign investments in INX Media.

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