The Centre on Monday granted sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case. Producing the sanction for prosecution before 2G Court Judge OP Saini, Special Public Prosecutor and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that they need “some more time” to produce the sanction for prosecution against Chidambaram’s five other co-accused.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also demanded the custodial interrogation of Chidambaram and son Karti and cancellation of anticipatory bail. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, who represented Chidambaram, objected to the demand of the agencies. The court posted the matter for further hearing on December 18. Chidambaram was also present in the court.
Mehta reiterated that agencies got fresh documents and wanted custodial interrogation of father and son alleging their evasive nature in responding to the questions.
There are 18 accused in the case. Besides Chidambaram, sanction is required for the prosecution of five public servants as per the recently amended Prevention of Corruption Act. CBI’s request for sanction of others is pending with the Finance Ministry. Former Finance Secretaries Ashok Jha and Ashok Chawla and two serving IAS officers Kumar Sanjay Krishnan, Deepak Kumar Singh along the then Under Secretary in FIPB, Ram Saran, are the co-accused with Chidambaram.
The Solicitor General submitted on behalf of the CBI that “the competent authority in the Central Government has accorded sanction for prosecution of accused P Chidambaram under Section 197 of the CrPC and Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act”.
“Sanction for prosecution in respect of remaining accused public servants (five) are still awaited,” he said, seeking two more weeks to get the nod.
The CBI said that the court’s refusal to grant more time to obtain the sanction for other accused “in a matter pertaining to such a serious offences, may frustrate the cause of justice”.
It added, “In view of the facts and circumstances stated above, it is most humbly and respectfully prayed that the prosecution sanction received from the competent authority in the Central Government in respect of accused P Chidambaram may kindly be taken on record and a further time may be given to file sanction for prosecution in respect of remaining accused public servants.”
On behalf of the ED in a related money laundering case, Mehta told the court that the accused “misled the agency and made false statement. He suppressed information about the bank accounts in other countries and the money received from various sources.”
“Custodial interrogation is required since various new materials have surfaced after filing of the chargesheet,” the ED, also represented by special public prosecutors NK Matta and Nitesh Rana, said. CBI has filed chargesheet on July 19.