Special CBI judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar granted bail to six secretaries, who were part of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) panel which granted approval to INX Media, in a corruption case being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The CBI had filed the charge sheet against 14 accused — P. Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram, his accountant S. Bhaskaran, former INX Media director Peter Mukerjea, INX Media, INX News, Chess Management Services, ASCPL and these six bureaucrats. Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram and his son are already out on bail in the case. Last August, P. Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI for alleged irregularities in the Rs 305 crore graft case over FIPB clearance to INX Media in 2007 when he was the Union Finance Minister. He was granted bail in December. Last month, the court had extended the interim bail of six bureaucrats in the INX Media case till 18 February. The interim bail of six bureaucrats, who were part of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which granted approval to INX Media during Chidambaram’s tenure, was extended by the court.
In 2017, According to the CBI, the Mukerjea couple, who were the owners and founders of INX Media had swung a deal in their favour to secure the FIPB clearance. Indrani turned approver in the case and gave a confessional statement to a magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Indrani Mukerjea has alleged that money had exchanged hands, benefiting one of Karti Chidambaram’s companies in lieu of the FIPB approval.
- The six bureaucrats are – Ajeet Kumar Dungdung, then section officer of FIPB unit, Ministry of Finance; Rabindra Prasad, then undersecretary FIPB unit, Ministry of Finance; Pradeep Kumar Bagga, then OSD, Department of Economic Affairs, Finance Ministry; Prabodh Saxena, Director, FIPB Unit, Finance Ministry; Anup K Pujari, then Joint Secretary (Foreign Trade) Department of Economic Affairs; and Sindhushree Khullar, then Additional Secretary Department of Economic Affairs.
- The accused have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including for criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and for taking gratification and criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
- The court also directed the CBI to hand over the copy of certain deficient documents to all the accused in the INX Media case, including former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti.
- All the bureaucrats who were charge-sheeted are currently on interim bail.
- Earlier, in its reply, the CBI opposed the regular bail petition of the bureaucrats.
- The interim bail is a temporary bail for a period in which the court can ask for documents to be presented which are required to make a final decision on the bail application. Subsequently, the court can grant permanent bail, extend interim bail or reject bail application altogether.
A Delhi court granted bail to six secretaries on a bond of Rs 2 lakh and directed them not to leave the country without taking prior permission. They have also been asked not to tamper with the evidence. The CBI Court has observed that, “The CBI has not been able to show that the accused/applicants are flight risk nor it has been able to show any reasonable ground for having any apprehension that they will tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses.. Moreover, other co-accused are already on bail in this case. Therefore, I do not see any justified ground to decline bail to accused/applicants”.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
- Case of CBI vs. M/s INX Media (P) Ltd. & Ors, CC No. CBI/417/2019, decided by CBI-09 Court on February 19, 2020.