The top court said it will examine the documents submitted in a sealed cover by the agency in the open court to allay any apprehension of Karti Chidambaram and others.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place the documents before it on November 9.
The top court agreed to examine the documents after Mehta, appearing for CBI, said it will be “travesty of justice” if the court does not see the papers and form an opinion.
The CBI FIR, lodged on May 15, had alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Karti’s father was the Union Finance Minister.At the outset, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Karti, urged the court to pass any order saying the case with regard to the Look Out Circular (LOC) has been lingering on for over three months now.
He said Karti has to go for a lecture to a UK university on the ‘rule of law in Pakistan’ on November 10, but due to this case, his passport has been impounded. Mehta opposed the arguments, saying it was beyond his understanding as to how important the lecture on “Rule of Law in Pakistan” would be and urged that Karti cannot be allowed to travel abroad pending investigation.
While reading the affidavit filed by Karti, Mehta said the CBI cannot be “so irresponsible” as to incorporate media reports as its evidence. “There are evidence of transaction to INX Media through Indrani Mukherjea and through Peter Mukherjea and Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited,” he alleged. Sibal opposed the charge and said the court should not peruse the report as it will enable the judges to form an opinion.
“They (CBI) say I will tamper with evidence if I go abroad but now I have only one bank account with State Bank of India left with me. The bank is now saying that I can’t operate this account even,” Sibal said.
He said if the court looks into the documents submitted by CBI, then it will form an opinion which will be against the principles of natural justice. Mehta said the judges could peruse the report at their residence if they wished before forming an opinion. This was opposed by Sibal who said the court should put the matter for arguments and pass an order. To this, the bench observed that whatever be the apprehension of the parties, CBI will handover the documents and court would see whether Karti can be allowed to travel abroad or what conditions need to be imposed.