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Aircel-Maxis case: CBI allegations 'false', 'baseless', Chidambaram tells court

New Delhi: Congress leader P Chidambaram has termed as "false" and "baseless" the allegations of the CBI before a court here that he as finance minister had unlawfully granted FIPB approval to a Mauritius-based company in the Aircel-Maxis case.

The submissions were made by the politician in his rejoinder filed in response to the reply of the probe agency.

The CBI, in its reply to the anticipatory bail plea of Chidambaram, had alleged that he was not cooperating in the investigations.

The averments (by the CBI) that the applicant (Chidambaram) had usurped the power of the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, unlawfully granted the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval to Global Communication Services Ltd, Mauritius, and had chosen not to disclose facts which are in his exclusive knowledge are denied as being false, baseless and untenable, the politician said.

The rejoinder submissions were filed before Special Judge O P Saini through advocates P K Dubey and Arshdeep Singh.

It is submitted that the FIPB was chaired by the secretary, economic affairs, and included four other secretaries (industry, commerce, external affairs and overseas Indian affairs), and the secretary of the administrative ministry concerned.

"Five of them were among the senior most IAS officers and sixth was a senior IFS officer of the ministry of external affairs. Each one of them had a long and distinguished record of service," the rejoinder said.

It said as per the normal procedure, the recommendations of the FIPB are submitted to the Ministry of Finance where they are once again examined by junior officers and then by the additional secretary and secretary before the file is put up to the competent authority (Finance Minister).

It is the FIPB that decides who is the competent authority in the given case, the rejoinder said.

"Once the CBI itself chose not to either arrest Chidambaram during investigation, i.e., from the date of registration of the FIR in 2011 until grant of interim protection by this court vide it's order dated July 23, or even issue any summons directing him to appear for questioning after December 6, 2015, the CBI cannot at this stage, that too after filing of the charge sheet on July 19, oppose the grant of bail to the applicant of the ground of alleged gravity of offence, according to the rejoinder.

Chidambaram, a former finance minister, claimed that the allegations made by the CBI were "unsubstantiated" and there was no need of his custodial interrogation, as sought by the agency.

He claimed that all the evidence were documentary and already in the CBI's possession.

No evidence has been submitted by the CBI in support of its unfounded allegation that the applicant (Chidambaram) may tamper with the witnesses or evidence, the document said.

The court has extended till November 26 the protection from arrest to Chidambaram in the case.

In its reply, the CBI maintained that Chidambaram's custodial interrogation was necessary as he was evasive and non-cooperative in the probe.

Chidambaram filed his anticipatory bail application in May. His protection from arrest has been extended from time to time.

Investigating agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have sought custodial interrogation the Congress leader, saying he has not been cooperating and, therefore, making it difficult to complete the investigation in a time-bound manner as directed by the Supreme Court.

Chidambaram has come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

In its charge sheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the CBI alleged that Chidambaram granted Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in March 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis.

The Maran brothers and the other accused named in the CBI charge sheet were discharged by the special court, which said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial.

The ED is also probing a separate money-laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which Chidambaram has been questioned by the agency and currently their anticipatory bail is pending.

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