A timeline of key events that led to the arrest of India’s former finance minister

What now?
What now?
Image: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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India’s former finance minister P Chidambaram, held yesterday (Aug. 21) over corruption and money laundering charges, will be produced before a special court of the central bureau of investigation (CBI) today.

The case involves alleged irregularities in clearing overseas investments of Rs305 crore ($42.8 million) into the Mumbai-based INX Media group (now 9X media) in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure.

An hour before his arrest, Chidambaram had addressed a press conference at the headquarters of the Indian National Congress of which he is a senior leader.

“In the INX Media case, I have not been accused of any offence nor has anyone else, including any member of my family, accused of any offence. In fact, there is no chargesheet filed by CBI or ED (enforcement directorate) in front of any competent authority,” he told reporters. “The CBI first information report (FIR) did not include any wrongdoing.”

As the case unfolds, here is a timeline of the events so far.

May 2017: CBI files an FIR, alleging irregularities in FIPB’s clearance to INX Media, co-founded by Indrani Mukerjea and her husband Peter Mukherjea, for receiving overseas funds from three Mauritius firms. The agency accuses Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram of using his father’s influence for the approval.

July 2017: A lookout circular (LOC) is issued against Karti Chidambaram by the foreigner regional registration officer (FRRO) and bureau of immigration, under the union home ministry. Karti moves the Madras high court to seek a recall of the LOC. It was issued “arbitrarily” as part of the central government’s “political vendetta” and  and without jurisdiction to prevent him from travelling abroad, he says.

August 2017: The Madras high court stays the LOCs saying they were prima facie unwarranted.  Within a week, the supreme court steps in to stay the high court order, and asks Karti to appear before the CBI on Aug. 23.

September 2017: Alleging that Karti is destroying evidence, CBI tells the top court it has prevented him from leaving the country. It also informs the court that it has gathered details about his overseas properties.

Meanwhile, the CBI summons Karti Chidambaram to appear at its headquarters in the Aircel-Maxis case. As part of its detailed investigation in the INX Media case, the CBI alleges Karti of money laundering.

October 2017: Karti requests the supreme court to allow him to travel abroad. Chidambaram appears before the top court, accuses Modi government of carrying out vendetta against him and his son.

November 2017: Court allows Karti to travel to UK for his daughter’s university admission, despite the CBI’s fears that he may not be back and could tamper with evidence. Later in the month, CBI questions Chidambaram.

December 2017: Karti once again approaches the supreme court over the CBI’s summons in the Aircel-Maxis case. He sends a five-page submission through his lawyer asking the agency not to insist on his appearance.

January 2018: The supreme court remanded back to Madras high court the pleas relating to the issuance of LOCs against Karti and others. It, however, makes it clear that its interim order “shall continue till the matter is finally disposed of.”

February 2018: ED arrests Karti’s chartered accountant and a co-accused S Bhaskaraman after it allegedly finds documents related to the INX Media case on his computer. Later in the month, Karti is also arrested upon his return to India from the UK.

March 2018: Delhi high court grants bail to S Bhaskaraman. After 23 days in custody, Karti Chidambaram also gets bail and interim protection from arrest by ED.

July 2018: CBI names Chidambaram and Karti in its chargesheet in the Aircel-Maxis deal. But later, Delhi high court grants Chidambaram interim protection from arrest, and directs him to cooperate with probe agencies.

October 2018: ED tightens the noose on Karti Chidambaram and attaches his assets worth Rs54 crore in India, UK and Spain.

July 2019: Spelling more trouble for the Chidambarams, a Delhi court allows Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the case of her daughter Sheena Bora’s murder, to turn approver in the INX Media case. In her application to the court, Mukherjea prays for pardon in the case in exchange of full and true disclosure.

August 2019: ED asks Karti Chidambaram to vacate the Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi, which was earlier attached by the agency, within 10 days. However, a special court ordered status quo on ED’s possession notice.

On Aug. 20: The Delhi high court rejects Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail.

Aug. 21: The senior Congress leader is arrested from his residence.