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HC grants no relief to Chidambaram and family, refuses to stay prosecution in black money case

Yet another attempt by the family of the Congress magnate and former finance minister P Chidambaram to prevent the filing of a case against them came to zilch when Justice S Baskaran of the Madras High court refused to stay the prosecution launched by the Income Tax department against Nalini Chidambaram (the lawyer wife of Chidambaram, son Karti and daughter-in-law Srinidhi) under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act of 2015.

Justice S Baskaran rejected the plea for interim orders and simply adjourned the cases, filed by the family to repress the prosecution, to July 5 after ordering notice to IT officials.

On 11th may, the IT department had filed four charge sheets against them, adding to the long list of legal obligations to the Congress minister’s family.

The prosecution cases were filed after it had been found by the Income Tax department that Karti, his mother, and wife had purchased a property in London (5, Holben Close, Barton, Cambridge, UK). The IT Department found that the property was purchased for Rs 5.37 crore but this was not disclosed in their IT returns.

Along with this the department also alleged that Karti fell short of disclosing his overseas bank account with Metro bank in the UK and his investments in Nano Holdings LLC, USA. Besides he also failed to disclose investments made by Chess Global Advisory, a company co-owned by him, which amounted to an offence under the Black Money Act.

Vilifying the IT departments move, the three (Karti Chidambaram, his mother Nalini Chidambaram, and his wife) moved the high court seeking an interim order staying the prosecution proceedings and also to direct the department to provide a copy of the complaint to them.

The Chidambaram’s had, in their petition contested that the Principal Director of Income-tax was not a competent officer to launch the prosecution under the black money act, hence the complaint against them should be trashed.

Earlier this year, a massive political war broke out following Karti’s arrest without any prior summon directly from the Chennai airport. Karti was arrested in the INX media case in which it was alleged that he facilitated FDI approvals and helped ex-bosses of the INX media company when they faced tax issues, misusing his father’s position as the then, finance minister. Later he was granted bail.

A defiant Karti Chidambaram had then refuted the allegations levied on him in the INX Media alleged bribery case as “false” and “politically motivated”.

In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15 last year against alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance to INX Media in 2007 when Chidambaram was finance minister.

While the day came hard on the Congress minister’s family, it, however, marked some relief for the minister himself as he was granted interim protection from arrest by the CBI, in the INX Media case, a day after the Delhi High Court extended him one in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

This year has not started well for the Chidambaram’s, the Chennai and Delhi homes of former Union minister P Chidambaram were raided by a team of Enforcement Directorate earlier this year in connection with the money laundering investigation in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case. The case is linked to an approval granted by Foreign Investment Promotion Board to Aircel-Maxis in 2006, during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister.

BJP Chief Amit Shah in a scathing attack on former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the filling of criminal cases against him and his family tweeted,

Under the Black Money Act, 4 charge sheets have been filed against P Chidambaram and his family for possessing and operating several illegal assets and accounts in foreign countries. IT estimates illegal assets held by UPA’s FM to be to the tune of 3 Bn dollars! #BlackMoneyOfPC

He further said, “This explains why despite Supreme Court’s orders Sonia Gandhi, former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh & then FM P Chidambaram dragged their feet on the formation of SIT, one of the first decisions taken by Modi govt, to fight Black Money! How could they indict their own selves?”

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had too lashed out at the former union minister by tweeting,

“Congress’ Nawaz Sharif moment”: Nirmala Sitharaman on I-T cases against P Chidambaram https://t.co/t78gF4xwI9 pic.twitter.com/TIU0hHzoDz

To counter these allegations P Chidambaram blistered back by saying that the president of the richest political party in India is dreaming of billions of dollars! Bring the money back and put Rs 15 lakhs in the account of every Indian as you promised,” without naming BJP president Amit Shah.

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