NEW DELHI: An Indian court on Thursday ordered that a former finance minister belonging to the opposition Congress party be held for four days for questioning by investigators in suspected bribery and money laundering cases.
Palaniappan Chidambaram appeared before Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar a day after he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's FBI, at his New Delhi home.
Government Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta asked for five days' custody for a detailed questioning of Chidambaram, but the judge agreed to four days.
Who is Chidambaram?
Prosecutors say Chidambaram as the country's finance minister in 2007 facilitated 3 billion rupees ($43 million) in foreign investment in an Indian media company, which allegedly paid kickbacks to his son, Karti Chidambaram. His son has been named as a defendant in the case.
Times Now television channel quoted the CBI as saying that kickbacks amounted to $5 million.
Chidambaram and his son deny the allegations and accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of pursuing a political vendetta.
Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party came to power after defeating a Congress party government in 2014 and won a second term in 2019 national elections. Several senior Congress politicians and high-ranking government officials faced bribery charges after the hosting of the New Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Chidambaram spends night at CBI HQ, which he inaugurated in 2011
A live demonstration of fate taking a twist can be seen in the case of Chidambaram.
The senior Congress leader, who himself inaugurated the present CBI headquarters in 2011, had to spend Wednesday night in the same building after the agency arrested him.
Chidambaram was then the Union Home Minister during the UPA-II government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He served as Home Minister during November 2008 to July 2012.
The senior Congress leader was the key guest along with Manmohan Singh during the June 30, 2011 inauguration of the new building of the CBI headquarters on south Delhi's Lodhi Road.
Chidambaram, known as a master strategist of the Congress, was arrested and taken to the CBI headquarters by the agency sleuths on Wednesday night after a day-long drama that saw agency officials scaling the walls of his Jor Bagh residence here, minutes after his press conference at the party headquarters where he said he was "not hiding from the law but seeking protection of the law."