A Madras High Court bench has reserved its orders regarding a petition seeking a court directive to the CBI allowing Karti, son of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, to travel to Europe including the UK in regards to his daughter’s studies as well as for his business requirements.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose has reserved its orders for February 16, after hearing arguments submitted by senior counsel Gopal Subramanium and Additional Solicitor-General (ASG) G Rajagopalan.
Look Out Circular Issued Against Karti
The CBI had issued a look out circular (LOC) in August 2017, restraining Karti from leaving India, on the ground of the FIR registered by it with respect to the alleged irregular approval of Rs. 305 crore worth foreign investment in INX Media, done in 2007 at his instance during the time his father was the Union Finance Minister.
The bench has asked the CBI to submit a counter affidavit to address the main plea that challenges the validity of the LOC. The matter has been posted to March 3 for further hearing.
While presenting his arguments Subramanium asserted Karti that had already submitted for questioning before the agency and has assured cooperation in future.
He also noted that the petitioner and his family were available in the court and there was no need for lookout notices as he was not a fugitive, adding that there was no justification for the apprehension that Karti would not come back since he has his roots here.
Subramanium further noted that the family owned just one property aboard and highlighted that the family had filed an affidavit stating that if the government could identify any property so far not listed as theirs it would be transferred to the government
No Cause For Urgency
In response, Rajagopalan emphasised that the trip was for business purposes, and that if it had been for “any emergency or medical reasons”, there would have been no objection. The government counsel further stated that if the choice was between the interest of the probe and private interest, then the former is more important.
Rajagopalan also contended that the CBI had received leads involving “money trail” of the alleged offence that had linkages to UK and other European countries. He said there was “a real and potential danger” that Karti’s presence in these countries may result in tampering of the evidence .
Rajagopalan also pointed out that the LOC was valid for just three more months, in which time the agency is likely to complete the investigation.
The ASG added that the petitioner returning to India was not the primary issue, but “there was something more to it,” as there is no reason for the urgency for the trip right now.