INX Media: Delhi court takes cognisance of charge sheet against Chidambaram, others

Before taking cognisance, Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar put various queries to the CBI including who were cheated.
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New Delhi: A Delhi court on Monday took cognisance of a charge sheet filed by the CBI in the INX Media corruption case against former finance minister P Chidambaram and 13 others, who are accused of various offences, including those under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The probe agency has claimed in the final report that Chidambaram "misused his official position", in conspiracy with his son Karti and others, in granting approval to a FDI proposal of INX Media and INX News Pvt Ltd in lieu of "illegal gratification" in India and through offshore payments.

Before taking cognisance, Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar put various queries to the CBI including who were cheated.

"The government was cheated," advocate Padmini Singh, appearing for the probe agency, said, adding that the requisite sanctions were received to prosecute the accused persons.

The court took cognisance of the report and directed the Enforcement Directorate, which is currently interrogating P Chidambaram in its custody in a related money laundering case, to produce him before it on October 24, when the 74 years old custody is scheduled to end.

The court, however, summoned Karti and 12 other co-accused on November 29 in the case.

Besides Karti and Peter Mukerjea, who are currently on bail, and chartered accountant S Bhaskaraman, who is currently on anticipatory bail in the case, the court also summoned others, including various former and current public servants.

Those summoned include Sindhushree Khullar, the then additional secretary, department of economic affairs (DEA); Ajeet Kumar Dungdung, the then section officer of FIPB unit (MoF); Rabindra Prasad, the then under secretary of FIPB unit; Pradeep Kumar Bagga, the then OSD, DEA; Prabodh Saxena, Director of FIPB Unit and Anup K Pujari, the then Joint Secretary (Foreign Trade) in the DEA.

The court also summoned INX Media Pvt Ltd, presently 9X Media Pvt Ltd; INX News Pvt Ltd, presently Direct News; Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd and Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL) through their representatives.

P Chidambaram, who has spent nearly 2 months in CBI and judicial custody after his arrest by the CBI on August 21 in the corruption case, is currently in the custody of the ED.

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

The report was filed under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), read with 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) of IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, including section 9 (taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant).

The maximum punishment for these offences is seven years.

The name of Indrani Mukerjea, a former promoter of INX Media and an accused-turned approver, also appears in the final report.

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