India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been granted four days to question leading opposition party politician and former finance minister P Chidambaram for his role in a case of alleged corruption and money laundering.
The former minister and his son, Karti Chidambaram, are being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, the Finance Ministry’s economic offences wing, in relation to foreign direct investment in the INX media group in 2007.
Chidambaram, 72, has denied allegations that he cleared foreign investments in the media company in exchange for bribes that were allegedly routed to his son while he was finance minister in 2007.
Chidambaram, a Harvard Business School graduate and a lawyer in the Supreme Court, is a senior member of the Indian National Congress party.
He has held portfolios of home and finance in Congress-led governments and has been a lawmaker in parliament since 1984.
The CBI told the court that Chidambaram was not cooperating with investigators and was not providing documents he was asked for. Custodial interrogation was needed to take the investigation further, legal reporting website Bar&Bench reported.
‘The CBI has been given custody of Mr Chidambaram till August 26. The court said he should have a medical check up every 48 hours and that his family members and lawyers could meet him for half an hour every day,’ a CBI lawyer told reporters outside the court.
Chidambaram was arrested amid high drama on Wednesday night after he re-appeared at his home in New Delhi where the CBI had been waiting since morning. Television footage showed CBI officials scaling a locked gate to reach him.
The Congress party condemned Chidambaram’s arrest as an attempt to divert attention from the country’s economic situation.
Chdiambaram has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, especially its handling of the economy.
‘The vindictive and selective manner in which former home and finance minister has been persecuted and prosecuted shows malice by the Modi government,’ Congress party spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
‘This happens while the economy is suffering and the rupee has been the worst performing currency.’
‘Chidambaram’s case is a massive case of corruption. The Congress was looting the country, Now they are being caught,’ Prakash Javdekar, a minister in the Modi government and senior leader of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said.