NEW DELHI: High drama unfolded in New Delhi late Wednesday as officers from India's equivalent of the FBI scaled the walls of a former finance minister's home to arrest him on corruption charges.
Former Union Minister P. Chidamabram was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a swift operation, minutes after he reached his Jor Bagh home following a dramatic appearance at the press conference at the Congress headquarters.
Chidambaram was seated in the middle of a white car with CBI personnel sitting on either side as he was driven straight to the agency's headquarters, located barely a few kilometres away from his house.
Sources said CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla himself was present at the headquarters along with top officers for the questioning of former minister. After completing the formalities, Chidambaram was arrested and will be produced in court on Thursday.
The moment Chidambaram arrived at his home from the press conference at the Congress headquarter on Akbar Road, the CBI personnel scaled walls and entered the premises.
Earlier in the day, the CBI had alerted airports to prevent Palaniappan Chidambaram, finance minister from 2004-2008 and again from 2012-2014, from leaving the country.
Sources said that the team of lawyers were present with Chidambaram at the time when he was taken into custody.
Chidambaram, 73, earlier this week failed to secure bail and had not been seen since Tuesday, until he showed up at the headquarters of the opposition Congress party on Wednesday to proclaim his innocence.
At a news conference, he called his accusers "pathological liars".
Driving then to his home in the upscale Jor Bagh neighbourhood, he was tailed by around 30 CBI officers who knocked at the doors before scaling the boundary walls, the Press Trust of India reported.
Once three officers were inside, they opened the gates to allow team members to enter, while others rushed to the back door to secure all exit points, PTI reported.
After Chidamabaram was arrested, party supporters gathered outside the home to protest. Some jumped on the car in which the politician was taken away, the agency said.
Congress workers were contained by Delhi Police personnel from posing any obstructions. The entire operation was swiftly executed within half an hour of his arrival in Jor Bagh.
Chidambaram has been charged in relation to alleged kickbacks and money laundering involving a media company when he was finance minister under former premier Manmohan Singh.
He was expected to appear in a special CBI court on Thursday, PTI reported.
Cases against Chidambaram
INX Media Case
The case in which the former Finance Minister has been arrested involves alleged kickbacks received by his son Karti Chidambaram in exchange for allowing INX Media, a television company, to receive Rs 305 crore as foreign funds in 2007. Delhi High Court's Justice Sunil Gaur said that his being a Member of Parliament doesn't affect the case. He has been questioned many times in relation to this case. ED argued that the companies where money was transferred to were controlled by his son.
In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance.
Aircel Maxis Deal
The case pertains to alleged irregularities while granting of FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal. The father-son are suspect in this case as well.
Both the CBI and ED are probing the case from different angles. The CBI is examining how Chidambaram, while he was Finance Minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, while the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was only allowed or empowered to do it. The Enforcement Directorate is probing money laundering in the Aircel-Maxis case. In the case, the Chidambarams have been grilled by the agency. Their anticipatory bail is pending.
The Aircel-Maxis deal is worth Rs 3,500 crore (Dh1,794m).
Air India purchase
If Aircel-Maxis deal and INX Media deals weren't enough, the former Finance Minister is also embroiled in the Air India purchase case. The ED has summoned him for questioning on August 23. The case pertains to alleged wrongdoing in the purchase of 111 aircraft for Air India when he was Finance Minister in the UPA government.
As many as 42 Airbus and 24 Boeing aircraft were slated to be purchased but had ended up in the purchase of 111 aircraft. Chidambaram will be questioned to explain the jump in a number of purchase. Chidambaram chaired the empowered group of ministers which finalised the decision to purchase the aircraft in 2009. According to the FIR, private entities were favoured.
The senior Congress leader is also under the agencies in the aviation scam, involving the sharing of the profitable routes with foreign airlines.
Black money case
Last November, the Madras High Court quashed the sanction orders issued by the Income Tax department to prosecute Chidambaram, his wife Nalini, son Karti and daughter-in-law Srinidhi Karti Chidambaram under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.
The Madras High Court order has been challenged in the Supreme Court where it is pending.
Tamil Nadu land grab case
The CBI has initiated a preliminary enquiry into allegations that a hotel in Tamil Nadu was grabbed by a relative of Chidambaram in collusion with officials of Indian Overseas Bank (IOB).
Ishrat Jahan affidavit case
A complaint against Chidambaram is also pending with Delhi Police relating to the alleged manipulation of an affidavit in connection with the Ishrat Jahan encouter death case when he was Union Home Minister.
Meanwhile, Chidambaram's wife Nalini has also been charge sheeted by the CBI in the Saradha chit-fund scam for allegedly accepting a bribe to the tune of Rs 1.4 crore.
She had been granted interim protection from arrest by the Calcutta High Court in January this year.