P. Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram who are already facing the heat in connection with the INX media case are up against yet another legal trouble. This time around the Aircel-Maxis scam has come back to haunt the father-son duo. Today, the Apex court has dealt a telling blow to them by dismissing the petition filed against Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer, Rajeshwar Singh and directing that investigations into the scam must be completed by September 12. This must have definitely raised heartbeats as far as the accused are concerned. The government had assured the Supreme Court in March this year that the investigations into the scam would be completed within six months. Today, the apex court took the government’s assurance as to the deadline on record and now the investigations are set to be completed as per the fixed time schedule.
Great SC Order: PIL dismissed. But RAW sealed cover Note may be investigated by Govt. But Aircel Maxis scam investigation must be finished by Sept 12 th. Govt May decide after charge sheet is filed the ED chief will decide if Rajeshwar needed in the probe
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) June 27, 2018
Chidambaram first faced trouble in the Aircel-Maxis scam in 2014 when the CBI, in its charge-sheet against the former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and the other accused had stated that it was investigating how the former finance minister, Chidambaram had granted Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to a deal involving a foreign firm while it is only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) could have granted such approval. There was an abrupt halt when the cases filed by CBI and ED in the Aircel-Maxis scam were dismissed by a special court in February last year. Maran brothers and the co-accused were discharged on the ground that charges were based on “misreading of files”, speculations and surmises of the prosecution.
Relief, though temporary, for those accused in the Aircel-Maxis case has not translated into any kind of relief for Chidambaram. In April last year, the CBI had informed the apex court that it is probing into the allegations of irregularities in grant of FIPB approval by the then finance minister Chidambaram. In a reply to Subramanian Swamy who is a petitioner before the Supreme Court in this case, the CBI stated that it was probing all angles into the case including the unauthorised FIPB clearance given by Chidambaram.
On January 4 this year, the Supreme Court had even directed the centre to file a status report with reference to the investigations being conducted into the matter. With the investigations now taking the shape of a time bound probe, it seems that Chidambaram is in deep trouble even as things are finally moving quickly into the case.
Chidambarams had not recovered from CBI’s investigations into the matter, when the ED went ahead and filed a 4,500-page charge-sheet against Karti Chidambaram in a special court. It also highlighted the role of former finance minister P. Chidambaram as part of the conspiracy in the Aircel-Maxis scam. It was alleged in the charge-sheet that in order to grant an FIPB approval to the Malaysian company Maxis that invested Rs. 3,500 crore in Aircel, acquiring its shares the then finance minister Chidambaram had “wrongly” projected investment by Maxis as an investment of merely Rs. 180 crore.
In February this year, the ED had found a confidential CBI report at the Jor Bagh residence of the former finance minister in New Delhi giving strong indications of his involvement in the matter and apprehensions were also raised as to how an unsigned copy of the confidential report submitted in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court reached the former minister’s residence. Earlier this month, ED issued summons to Chidambaram for questioning in the matter.
it seems that the past has come back to haunt Chidambaram and the Congress even as it is less than a year before the country goes to general elections. Congress and Chidambaram would have hated to have been brought to justice at such a critical and sensitive juncture. It seems that things are going to get tough for Chidambaram and the Congress from here on. Things have turned ugly for them at a time when they would have hated it to.