'Sleep deprived, always under bright lights', Karti complains to CBI court

Karti Chidambaram son of former finance minister P Chidambaram arrives at Patiala House courts in connection with the INX Media money laundering case in New Delhi on Friday

The CBI has alleged that Karti used the office of his father, then finance minister P. Chidambaram to favour INX media and in turn received monetary gains, a charge vehemently denied by the Chidambarams who have called it a case of political vendetta. He now faces further interrogation by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the INX Media money laundering case, during which he will be questioned alongside his chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman.

The court also directed the investigating officer to get Karti medically examined every 24 hours during the custody, as per the rules.

In fresh raids conducted on March 7 and 8, the CBI said it recovered documents, including air tickets and mobile phone bills of Karti Chidambaram and his family members which were paid by Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL), a company which has been a conduit for alleged bribes and with which Karti has denied any links.

Hours after the apex court order, Karti's lawyers - Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur - approached the high court where Justice S Ravindra Bhat dealt with the petition in his chamber and posted the matter for hearing on Friday. Karti was arrested by the CBI from Chennai Airport on February 28 in connection with the case.

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Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, special public prosecutor in the case, informed the High Court that the CBI would seek extension of his custodial interrogation for six more days. The agency can apply for yet another three days of police custody under the law, which allows 15 days of police remand.

Meanwhile, the court asked the agency to file a reply to Mr. Karti's bail application and fixed March 15 for the hearing.

Karti is accused of having illegally taken service charges for getting the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the INX Media for receiving funds from overseas worth Rs 305 crore in 2007, when his father, P Chidambaram, was the finance minister in the Congress-led UPA Government.

The ED opposed Sibal's contention that Karti should be allowed to withdraw the petition and approach the high court.

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While giving the assurance, the court said that it was yet to choose the Constitutional legitimacy of area 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act which manages the influence of capture of the ED under the statute.

"He himself says he is not a "common criminal".

On the issue of lights, Mehta said it was necessary for security purposes. But I ask myself what do common criminals do when released in one case and fear arrest in the other case.

The bench said it will pass orders directing the high court to entertain the petition of Karti and pass the interim order once a proper application was moved.

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