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No relief for Chidambaram, court rejects surrender plea

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Confronted by 5 persons, Chidambaram answered 400 questions in CBI custodyNew Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) If investigators don’t want to arrest, surrender application can’t be entertained, said a Delhi court on Friday while turning down the surrender application filed by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the ED case relating to INX Media.

Chidambaram is presently lodged in Tihar jail in connection with the INX Media corruption case.

“When the investigating officer is not willing to arrest the applicant at this stage, his application for surrender in the court cannot be entertained,” Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar said in his order, dismissing the senior Congress leader’s plea.

The court also observed that it would be wrong to assume that if the application for anticipatory bail has been rejected, there is no option but to arrest.

“At this stage, neither a complaint nor the charge sheet is pending before the court. At this stage of investigation, when the investigating agency is not inclined to arrest the accused and there is no process issued against the accused by the court, the surrender by an accused in the court will not ipso facto be accepted by the court,” the court observed.

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The court had reserved its order on the surrernder application filed by Chidambaram on Thursday.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had told the court on Thursday that choosing the date of arrest could not be the right of an accused.

“Choosing the date of arrest is not the right of any accused. It’s always the right of the probe agency to take a decision in the interest of effective investigation,” the ED had said in an affidavit filed before the court.

“It is my case that the arrest was necessary and is still necessary and we would have exercised the power of arrest had he not been in judicial custody. But now as he is in the judicial custody and cannot tamper with evidence or influence the witness, we will utilise this time to complete background interrogation and then seek his custody for effective utilisation of the 15-day period,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said during the hearing on Thursday.

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Opposing Mehta’s submission, Chidambaram’s counsel Kapil Sibal said on his behalf, “It’s mala fide, with intent to punish me and make me suffer. I want this investigation to end. I am not against those encyclopaedia principles. I am just saying interrogate me. You were ready to arrest me on August 20-21 but what has happened now?”

Sibal argued, “On that day, he came running to arrest me, today he only wants to confront six people.”

Countering Sibal’s claims, Mehta said, “What could I do? He was absconding. I had no other option.”

The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving Rs 305 crore overseas funds in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the Finance Minister.

The ED too filed a money laundering case against the former Finance Minister in this regard in 2017.

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