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Since March 2018, Court extended interim protection from arrest to accused P Chidambaram and Karti 22 times. Read details

Former union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti have got an extension of their interim protection from arrest for a staggering 20th time. All the extensions have been granted by CBI special judge OP Saini.

On Friday, Former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti got interim protection for the 22nd time from a Delhi special CBI court in connection with the Aircel-Maxis cases filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

What is the Aircel-Maxis deal?

The Aircel-Maxis controversy, a case which has been carrying on since 2011, has its roots in the 2G spectrum ‘scam.

A Malaysian firm named Maxis had acquired Aircel by buying a 74 per cent stake in it in March 2006. The company also allegedly invested Rs.742 crores in Sun Direct, a company chaired by former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran’s brother, Kalanithi Maran in 2009.

In October 2011, the CBI filed a case against Dayanidhi Maran on the basis of Aircel founder Sivasankaran’s complaint. The FIR also stated that a company owned by Kalanithi had received an amount of Rs.549 crore for facilitating the Aircel-Maxis deal.

In December 2014, the CBI examined that the former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had a connection with the case, questioning whether he was competent for giving Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) sanction for the foreign investment in Aircel since he could only sanction investment up to Rs 600 crore. The Aircel-Maxis deal was worth Rs 3,500 crore, which, they argued, needed the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)

The CBI alleged that after the approval was received, Aircel Televentures Limited paid a sum of 26 lakh to a company linked to Karti Chidambaram.

In April 2017, the CBI informed the Supreme Court that it is investigating P Chidambaram’s role in the alleged irregularities in grant of FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis case, and alleged payments to Karti.

In July 2018, senior Congress leader Chidambaram and his son Karti along with 16 others were charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the probe into suspected criminal misconduct related to approvals of investment deals. The CBI had also accused him as ‘willful lawbreaker’ in its charge sheet filed in July.

Interim Protection for 20th time:

Since March 2018, both P Chidamabaram and Karti Chidambaram have been continuously granted interim protection from arrest by the special CBI court in Delhi for their alleged involvement in the Aircel-Maxis scam.

Here is a list of interim protections provided by the special CBI court headed by Justice OP Saini to accused P Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram. Interestingly, in some of those cases, both ED and the CBI have themselves asked for an adjournment in the case further providing relief to the accused.

  1. March 20, 2018: The special CBI court granted protection to Karti Chidambaram from arrest till April 16, 2018, in Aircel-Maxis matter arising out of the 2G spectrum cases lodged by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
    Special Judge OP Saini gave the agencies three weeks to file a detailed reply on the anticipatory bail plea of Karti.
  2. April 16, 2018: A Delhi court yet again granted Karti Chidambaram interim protection from arrest till May 2, 2018, in two cases filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in the Aircel-Maxis matter.
    Special Judge OP Saini once again granted relief to the son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram after the Enforcement Directorate’s counsel asked for time to argue against Karti Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail application.
  3. May 2, 2018: The Delhi court granted Karti Chidambaram interim protection from arrest till June 4, 2018, in two cases filed by the CBI and ED in the Aircel-Maxis matter arising out of 2G spectrum cases.
    Special Judge OP Saini granted relief to the son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought time to argue on Karti’s application seeking anticipatory bail.
  4. June 5, 2018: A special court here extended interim protection to former Union Minister P Chidambaram from arrest till July 10, 2018, in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
    Special Judge OP Saini announced the order and directed him to join the investigation whenever required.
  5. July 10, 2018: The Delhi court ordered that former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti would not be arrested in the Aircel-Maxis deal related money laundering case till August 7, 2018.
    The ED had opposed the bail application before special judge OP Saini in its written submission and sought time to argue the matter.
  6. August 7, 2018: A Delhi court today extended till October 8, 2018, the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Aircel-Maxis cases filed by the CBI and the ED.
    Special CBI Judge O P Saini put up the matter for October 8 after the counsel appearing for the agencies told the court that the main counsel was not well and requested time.
  7. October 8, 2018: A Delhi Court further extended the interim protection from arrest till November 1, 2018, granted to former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case filed by the CBI and the ED.
    Special CBI Judge O P Saini adjourned the matter till November 1 after the lawyers appearing for agencies sought an adjournment in the matter.
  8. November 1, 2018:  Former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti got relief after a Delhi court extended their interim protection from arrest till November 26, 2018, protection in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case filed by the CBI and the ED.
    Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram had submitted on behalf of P Chidambaram. Taking note of Chidambaram’s submission, Special Judge OP Saini extended till November 26 the protection from arrest granted to him.
  9. November 27, 2018: The CBI this time sought more time before special CBI judge OP Saini to procure sanction to prosecute the remaining five public servants.
    The court meanwhile also extended the period of interim protection from arrest for Chidambaram and his son, Karti to December 18, 2018.
  10. December 19, 2018:  The Delhi court again extended till January 11, 2019, the protection granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son from arrest in the Aircel-Maxis scam.
    Special Judge OP Saini extended the relief granted to Chidambaram and his son Karti after the CBI and the ED submitted that new material has been recovered which needs to be collated. It also granted time till January 11 to the CBI to get sanction to prosecute some of the people accused in the case.
  11. January 11, 2019: The Delhi court on that day extended the interim protection from arrest to former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Kartitill February 1, 2019.
    Special CBI Judge OP Saini put up the matter for February 1 after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, told the court that the ongoing probe was about to be completed.
  12. February 1, 2019: Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti got further protection after the Delhi court extended their protection till February 18, 2019, in the Aircel-Maxis scam.
    Special CBI Judge OP Saini extended the relief to Chidambaram noting that he would not be available on February 1 for which the matter was earlier listed.
  13. February 18, 2019: The Delhi court extended till March 8, 2019, the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis scam cases filed by the CBI and the ED.
    “Requesting both parties to expedite the matter but the date is not fixed yet. Put up the matter for March 8,” the judge OP Saini had said.
  14. March 8, 2019: Karti and his father P Chidambaram yet again got an extension from the Delhi court with interim protection from arrest till March 25, 2019.
    Special Judge OP Saini had adjourned the hearing after senior advocate Sonia Mathur, appearing for the CBI, sought time to argue on their anticipatory bail pleas.
  15. March 25, 2019: The Delhi court again extended till April 26, 2019, the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case filed by the CBI and the ED.
    P Chidambaram appeared before Special Judge OP Saini, who extended the interim relief granted to them.
  16. April 26, 2019: Former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti got an extension from Delhi court till May 6, 2019. The father-son duo got interim protection from arrests in the Aircel-Maxis case.
    Special Judge OP Saini extended the interim relief to Chidambaram and his son and posted the matter on May 6 after ED sought more time to gather evidence.
  17. May 6, 2019: The Delhi court extended the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Aircel-Maxis cases by CBI and ED till May 30, 2019.
    Special Judge OP Saini extended the protection after senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Chidambarams, made a request in this regard.
  18. May 31, 2019: A Delhi court on May 30 extended the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis cases by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) till August 1, 2019.
    Special Judge OP Saini extended the protection after the ED sought three-weeks’ time to argue on their anticipatory bail pleas.
  19. August 1, 2019: The Delhi court on August 1 extended the interim protection from arrest to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Aircel-Maxis cases filed by the CBI and the ED till August 9, 2019.
    Special Judge OP Saini extended the relief after the argument on anticipatory bail plea of the father-son duo remained inconclusive as both the agencies sought time to argue the matter further.
  20. August 9, 2019: A Delhi court today once again extended till August 23, 2019, the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Aircel-Maxis cases filed by the CBI and the ED.
    Special Judge OP Saini extended the relief, which was to end today, saying the court was not available for arguments.
  21. August 23, 2019: A Delhi court refused to adjourn the Aircel-Maxis case hearing against Chidambaram and his son Karti on the pleas filed by CBI and ED seeking adjournment as another case was pending before the SC with regard to the INX Media scam. While Special Judge OP Saini took strong objection to agencies seeking repeated adjournments, he reserved the order for September 3, 2019, extending their interim protection till then
  22. September 5, 2019: According to the reports, special Judge OP Saini again granted relief to the father-son duo and directed them to join the probe in the cases. “In event of arrest, they should be released on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and one surety of like amount. The accused are directed to join the investigation,” the court said.

Justice OP Saini acquited 2G scam accused A Raja, Kanimozhi:

Interestingly, OP Saini was the same judge who acquited Former telecom minister A Raja, DMK member Kanimozhi and several others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases in 2017. The scam related to the 2G spectrum licence allocations in 2007-08 which caused, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.

Note: The article has been updated with latest information and more interim protection granted by CBI Special Court Judge OP Saini.

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