Karti Chidambaram Went Abroad to Close Bank Accounts: CBI to SC

The CBI on Friday told the Supreme Court that Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, was prevented from travelling abroad as he was allegedly closing several of his foreign bank accounts.

Justifying the issuance of a look out circular (LoC) against Karti, the agency also claimed before a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that "shocking" details have emerged during his foreign visits which were directly connected to the FIR lodged in the corruption case.

The CBI FIR, lodged on 15 May, had alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Karti's father was the Union Finance Minister.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta (ASG), appearing for the CBI, sought to place before the bench some documents in a sealed cover which was vehemently objected to by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for Karti.

"What he did abroad is part of this sealed cover," Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

When Sibal repeatedly protested the ASG's submissions that the CBI be allowed to place before it the documents in a sealed cover, Mehta took the opportunity to briefly speak about the contents of documents enclosed in the cover.

"I am objecting to it. This is not a part of the FIR. They cannot file documents in the court like this," Sibal said.

Mehta retorted, "Let me say what is contained in the sealed cover. What he has done when he was abroad. He said (during interrogation) he has only one account abroad. But when he went abroad, he closed several bank accounts. I don't want to say all this as it will embarrass him, but I have been compelled."

Sibal then said that not a single question relating to this was asked by the agency during Karti's interrogation.

"They interrogated me (Karti), but not a single question was asked on this," he said, adding "if they can show any signature of Karti on any account, they can prosecute him under the FEMA or black money law".

When Sibal said Karti had gone abroad to get his daughter admitted at the Cambridge University, Mehta shot back "why are you so afraid if you did only this?"

When the ASG referred to the report of the financial investigation unit, Karti's counsel said "this has been investigated for the last 10 years".

The ASG then told the bench, "You please see these documents. Accused cannot say 'do not show it to the court'." Sibal said the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution has been violated in the case, since without issuing any notice to Karti to appear before the CBI the government had come out with a LoC.

The bench, on hearing the submissions, posted the matter for further proceedings on October 4.

(This story has been edited for length.)

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