27 August 2019
India has many legal avenues to tackle corruption, even though they can be bumpy. In 2014, 2G spectrum scandal led to the fall of the Congress government and paved the way for Modi to come to power. But later in 2017, the court said that the prosecution “miserably failed” to prove any charge concerning 2G spectrum scandal.
Back then in 2005, Amit Shah was Gujarat minister and P Chidambaram (in picture) was the Union home minister. Amit Shah was investigated in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. Sohrabuddin was a wanted criminal with around 60 pending cases when he was allegedly killed in police custody in 2005, when Amit Shah was the Gujarat home minister. Amit Shah is currently the Minister of Home Affairs and he has been President of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party since 2014. He is Modi’s right-hand man.
In 2010 Amit Shah was arrested by the CBI in the Sohrabuddin encounter case and slapped with charges of murder, extortion and kidnapping. When he applied for bail, the CBI opposed the move in the Gujarat High Court arguing that Amit Shah might use his political influence to tamper with the evidence or threaten witnesses.
Three months later Amit Shah got bail from the Gujarat High Court. The next day, when the court was closed for weekend, the CBI approached the Supreme Court at the residence of Justice Aftab Alam and had banned Amit Shah from entering Gujarat for two years from 2010 to 2012. Amit Shah accused Chidambaram and the Congress of misusing the CBI to target political opponents.
The BJP declared that Amit Shah was innocent and yet harassed by the Congress-led government. When Narendra Modi government came to power by December 2014 Amit Shah was cleared of all charges.
Interestingly, the Congress is making the same claim now about Chidambaram’s involvement in the INX Media case. INX Media was founded by media entrepreneurs Indrani Mukherjea and husband Peter Mukherjea. They were allegedly helped by P Chidambaram, then Union Finance Minister of India, in violation of foreign investment laws. INX Media had permission to source foreign investments to the tune of $645,000 but it has allegedly received funds worth $42 million. With the excess funds, Mukherjeas made a downturn investment for which they didn’t have approval. When FIPB questioned the irregularities the Mukherjeas sought the help of Karti to get out of their tricky situation. Mentioning Chess Management Services Limited, where Karti was a director, INX Media issued clarifications to the letter by the FIPB, which then mysteriously agreed and ignored the serious illegality involved in the matter. The FIPB then advised INX Media to apply for a fresh proposal regarding downturn investment, which was later granted.
On 15 May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate had filed a case against P. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram (also a Congress MP), INX Media and its directors, Peter Mukherjea and Indrani Mukherjea and a few others for money laundering.
In March 2018, Indrani Mukherjea told the CBI in a statement that a $1 million deal had been struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukherjeas to secure FIPB approval in favour of INX Media. In October 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seized assets of Karti Chidambaram worth $7.5 million, including properties in New Delhi, Ooty, United Kingdom and Barcelona in relation to the INX Media case.
Federal police arrested Chidambaram on a warrant issued by a competent court, a spokesman for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said.
The CBI and Enforcement Directorate have alleged that P. Chidambaram abused his official position while he was finance minister. Officials have also alleged that Chidambaram was involved in money laundering and conspired around the approval of a telecommunications deal in 2006.
Enforcement Directorate is likely to tell the court that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has “given specific inputs” that the former finance minister and his co-conspirators “had accounts/valuable properties in Argentina, Austria, British Virgin Island, France, Greece, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and Sri Lanka”, Indian Express reported. However, Chidambaram’s lawyers said that he does not own any property or has any bank account abroad and that all his assets are duly reflected in all statutory filings.
P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram told IANS news agency, “My assets are all duly accounted for and disclosed in all statutory filings. I have contested two elections, one successfully. I am obligated to publicly declare my assets and I have done so. Let me remind you that I am liable for disqualification from Parliament if I have misstated my assets.”
When asked about his association with Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, Karti said “I have never met Peter Mukherjea. Have never met Indrani Mukherjea, only time I met her was during the CBI interrogation in Byculla jail. Never met anyone in FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board), don’t know the process of FIPB”, he said.
There is no overwhelming evidence to prove that Chidambaram acted wrongfully in the INX media case, other than Indrani Mukherjea’s claim that they paid $1 million to Karti Chidambaram. Indrani is an unscrupulous person and a possible murderess. It gets even more suspicious as she has been allowed to be a crown witness (approver) for implicating Chidambarams.
An audit conducted by Temasek Holdings brought up suspicions that the Mukherjeas had siphoned off $24 million from INX Media. CBI officials contended that Peter and Indrani Mukherjea had parked the siphoned off money from the company in an offshore bank account in Sheena Bora’s name. The CBI has speculated that this financial angle might provide a motive for Sheena Bora’s murder.
Indrani Mukherjea is now held in women’s-only prison in Byculla Jail, Mumbai for the murder of her daughter, Sheena Bora. According to the CBI, financial dispute was the reason for Indrani Mukherjea to hatch the conspiracy to kill her daughter. Sheena Bora was also in a relationship with Peter Mukherjea’s son from earlier marriage, Rahul, which Indrani Mukherjea disapproved of.