Aircel-Maxis case: Court grants interim protection to P Chidambaram till 5 June; seeks ED's response on anticipatory bail
The Delhi's Patiala house court said no course of action can be taken against former finance minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel Maxis case until 5 June.
A special court here on Wednesday granted interim protection to P Chidambaram from arrest till 5 June in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
Special Judge O P Saini announced the order and directed him to join the investigation on 5 June, the date when Enforcement Directorate (ED) has asked him to appear before it for questioning.
The court has asked ED to file a response on Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea and listed the matter for further hearing on 5 June.
Earlier, the court granted interim protection to Karti Chidambaram from arrest till 10 July in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED are investigating how Karti Chidambaram allegedly managed to get a clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in the Aircel-Maxis deal when his father P. Chidambaram was the Finance Minister in 2006.
The ED is probing the financial irregularities committed as per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the case, which is also being investigated by the CBI.
Both agencies are trying to find out how Karti allegedly managed to get a clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for the Aircel-Maxis deal.
The ED in September last year had also attached Rs 1.16-crore assets of Karti in connection with the case.
According to the CBI charge sheet submitted in the special court, Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for an investment of $800 million in Aircel.
Though it was the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was competent to grant the approval, it was cleared by then Finance Minister P Chidambaram on his own and the amount for FIPB clearance was wrongly projected to conceal the facts.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that Chidambaram had tweaked the FIPB norms for clearing the deal in 2006.
Seeking a probe into the role of Chidambaram in alleged violation of the FIPB norms for approving the deal, Subramanian Swamy has referred to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)'s 2015 report, which points to two alleged illegalities.
According to Swamy, the CAG cited the illegality of FIPB approving Maxis' acquisition of 93.3 per cent stake in Aircel Tele Ventures Ltd through its wholly-owned subsidiary, the GCSHL, well in excess of the then ceiling of 74 per cent investment by a foreign entity.
The second illegality, Swamy has said, was that since the foreign investment in Aircel was more than Rs 600 crore, it should have gone to the CCEA for approval, but it was instead cleared by the FIPB.
Karti is also an accused in the INX Media Case where he has been charged with receiving irregular FIPB clearance for investments up to Rs 305 crore.