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Delhi court sends P Chidambaram to ED custody till Oct 30

Delhi court sends P Chidambaram to ED custody till Oct 30
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A Delhi court on Thursday sent former finance minister P Chidambaram to custodial interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate till October 30 in the...

New Delhi : A Delhi court on Thursday sent former finance minister P Chidambaram to custodial interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate till October 30 in the INX Media money laundering case. Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar allowed the ED to quiz Chidambaram in custody, while also directing it that he be taken to AIIMS immediately in case of any medical complication.

The court said that the other conditions of his custody will be the same, including providing him home-cooked food. The probe agency had sought 7-day custodial interrogation of the 74-year old senior Congress leader. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, said the former minister is very ill and sought 2-day interim bail for treatment in Hyderabad.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, opposed the plea and said it would be a serious miscarriage of justice if the agency's investigation is curtailed. Mehta told the court that documentary evidence has come to light which shows Chidambaram's connection to money laundering.

"Three kind of evidence has come forward -- e-mails exchanged between family members and co-conspirators, details of benami properties beneficially owned by the family members and co-conspirators and statements of witnesses and others who owned or were associated with the benami properties. The arrestee need to be confronted with the new evidence," he claimed.

The law officer further said that Chidambaram has answered 65 questions and after that his pace decreased while answering specific queries supported by "clinching" documents and "incriminating" materials during interrogation. "Given the volume of the materials and his pace, his interrogation could not be completed," Mehta said and sought more time from the court.

He told the court that there were "glaring discrepancies" between statements of witnesses, co-conspirators and Chidambaram and therefore he needs to be confronted with witnesses and new evidence that has come forward. Sibal, however, said there is no basis for further remand and the agency could have easily confronted Chidambaram with the witnesses all these days.

"Why did the agency not confront him with witnesses in the past seven days? Only his statement was recorded," he said. The court then asked the Solicitor General as to why Chidambaram was not confronted with any witness so far. To this, Mehta said the ED wanted to record his statement and there was a time limit.

The judge looked at the remand application and said that at this pace even 50 days will be less. "This was your ground last time too for seeking custodial interrogation that he needed to be confronted with witnesses. You recorded his statement for five days. Did not confront him with any witness.

Now you are saying he needs to be confronted with more questions. At this pace, even 50 days will be less," the judge said. But Mehta promptly responded that the agency's pace of investigation was excellent Sibal told the court that Chidambaram was ill and facing acute stomach ache.

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