The Lamp of Liberty Could Not Shine Bright For Chidambaram
| IOP Desk - 21 Aug 2019

The Lamp of Liberty Could Not Shine Bright For Chidambaram

By Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, Aug. 21, 2019: The lamp of liberty could not shine bright for Chidambaram. He was arrested on Wednesday night by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from his Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi just an hour after he expressed this hope in an unannounced press conference at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters in New Delhi.

In a dramatic turn of the events, former finance minister and Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram was on Wednesday night arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from his Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Tweeted

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Tweeted in support of P Chidambaram, who faces arrest in the INX Media case, saying he was being “shamefully hunted down”.

“An extremely qualified and respected member of the Rajya Sabha, @PChidambaram_IN ji has served our nation with loyalty for decades including as Finance Minister & Home Minister,” Priyanka Gandhi said in a two-part tweet.

“He unhesitatingly speaks truth to power and exposes the failures of this government, but the truth is inconvenient to cowards so he is being shamefully hunted down. We stand by him and will continue to fight for the truth no matter what the consequences are,” she said.

Chidambaram was arrested barely an hour after he appeared at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters and made a statement of hope that, “In the present circumstances, respect for the law can mean only one thing – await the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on Friday.”

However, the CBI did not wait for Friday and he was taken to the CBI headquarters. Chidambaram, who is presently a member of the Rajya Sabha, has been accused of committing offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act in respect of INX Media investments.

Rahul Gandhi also Tweeted

Soon after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s Tweet in support of P Chidambaram,  Rahul Gandhi also Tweeted, “Modi's Govt is using the ED, CBI & sections of a spineless media to character assassinate Mr Chidambaram. I strongly condemn this disgraceful misuse of power.”

 

Chidambaram’s son, Karti, allegedly used his father’s influence as a Union minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in 2007 to influence approval for a Rs 305-crore foreign investment in INX Media.

The CBI has accused Chidambaram, Karti, INX Media, and unknown officials of the finance ministry in the case. INX Media was once owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, the couple now in jail in an unrelated murder case.

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala says democracy stands dead in the hands of the BJP. "The shameless witch-hunt & unheard of abuse of CBI/ED by Modi Govt 2.0 is playing on every TV screen in India. It’s a sham and shame that democracy stands dead in the hands of the BJP," he Tweeted.

Today, when Chidambaram earlier appeared at a press conference almost 24 hours after going "incommunicado" in the wake of the Delhi High Court turning down his anticipatory bail plea in connection with the INX Media scam case, said, “I was aghast that I was accused of hiding from the law; on the contrary, I was seeking the protection of the law. I was accused of running away from justice; on the contrary, I was engaged in the pursuit of justice.”

Shri Chidambaram said in the press conference- “I believe that the foundation of a democracy is liberty. The most precious Article of the Constitution of India is Article 21 that guarantees life and liberty. If I am asked to choose between life and liberty, I shall unhesitatingly choose liberty.”

Minutes after his press conference, teams from both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate arrived at his posh Jor Bagh residence. In unprecedented drama, CBI officials scaled the wall of his house to gain access.

Before this, Chidambaram expressed his hope that, “I shall walk with clear conscience and my head held high. I shall respect the law even if it is applied with an unequal hand by the investigating agencies. In the name of freedom, I can only hope and pray that the investigating agencies will also respect the law.”

During his press briefing, several senior Congress leaders including  Shri Ahmed Patel, MP; Shri K.C. Venugopal, General Secretary AICC; Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, LoP (RS); Shri Mallikarjuna Kharge, General Secretary AICC; Shri Kapil Sibal, MP; Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, MP; Shri Salman Khurshid, MP and Shri Vivek Tankha, MP were present at the media at AICC Hdqrs. on Wednesday.

He further said, “Some days ago, when I spoke in Parliament, I had said that every Judge in this country will uphold the liberty of a citizen. I had said that the collective conscience and the institutional memory of the court, as a venerable institution, will guide all Judges of the country. As much as I believe in liberty, I also believe in the wisdom of our Judges.

“So, until Friday, and beyond, let us hope that the lamp of liberty will shine bright and illuminate the whole country,” he added.   

However, the lamp of liberty could not shine bright for Chidambaram. He was arrested and will be kept at CBI headquarters tonight.

Earlier, the Supreme Court listed for August 23 Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea seeking protection from arrest in the INX Media case. No mention of Chidambaram's plea was made in court after the Ayodhya land dispute hearing came to an end on Wednesday.

A team of officers from the CBI arrived at Chidambaram’s posh Jor Bagh residence late last night but could not find him home. The high court denied the anticipatory bail plea to Chidambaram, saying he seems to be the "kingpin" and "key conspirator" in the case and needs to be interrogated in custody for the investigation to be effective.

Holding that the INX media scam was a "classic case of money laundering", the court said the twin facts which have weighed to deny pre-arrest bail to Chidambaram are "gravity" of the offence and "evasive" replies given by him to questions put to him while he was under protective cover extended to him by the court.

Chidambaram, 73, also failed to get any immediate relief from the Supreme Court that was approached shortly after the high court cancelled the interim protection from arrest, paving the way for the CBI and the ED to apprehend him.

The CBI team, which reached Chidambaram’s home hours after the high court verdict, left the premises after confirming he was not present. A team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also arrived later.

Karti Chidambaram Tweeted

In a Tweet, Karti Chidambaram says he has been raided by CBI four times and has been investigated for hours, yet there is no chargesheet against him. “This is a political witch-hunt. Outrageous media leaks are the preferred tactics of the @dir_ed I have nothing to do with INX or the FIPB. All my assets and liabilities are duly declared in statutory and regulatory filings. I have repeated this ad nauseam. I have been raided 4 times. Appeared for over 20 summons. Each session for a minimum of 10 to 12 hours. Been a “guest” of the CBI:) for 12 days. There is still no chargesheet for alleged events which apparently took place in 2008 and a FIR in 2017. There is no case.”

Later on Tuesday night, the CBI again visited Chidambaram's house and pasted a notice on the gate. Signed by CBI investigating officer and Deputy Superintendent of Police R Parthasarathy, it directed the former minister to present himself within two hours of the receipt of the notice for further investigation in the case. The communication was emailed to Chidambaram as well.

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. Afterward, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.

The Congress party questioned the actions of the probe agencies against Chidambaram, asking what was the tearing hurry when the Supreme Court was slated to hear his appeal on Wednesday morning.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said that Chidambaram has sought an appeal in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. "His bail was rejected today but what was the urgency for the ED and the CBI to haunt him tonight?" he asked. “This is not a criminal trial. What is happening today is not good for democracy.”

Party leader Manish Tewari, in a tweet, said, "Unrelenting, insidious and vindictive persecution of P Chidambaram and his family is an insult to the Rule of Law as it stands constituted in a democracy."

Chidambaram maintained a stoic silence and kept himself away from the media after the judgment. When the news of this setback reached him, the former finance minister was in the Supreme Court along with a few junior lawyers.

Chidambaram met senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Salman Khurshid, all Congress leaders, in the apex court for deliberating his further course of action.

Image Courtesy - ANI / Google 


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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. http://bit.ly/2mh7hih Email - SMS- 9910150119)


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