New Delhi: A request that former Union Minister P Chidambaram, arrested in the INX media case, be allowed to make a brief submission was granted by a Delhi court, despite strong objection from the CBI.
Soon after arguments on custodial interrogation got over, senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was appearing for Chidambaram, sought permission from special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar that his client be allowed to speak as he wants to throw some light on the questions being asked by the CBI during interrogation.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the CBI, vehemently opposed the request saying the former finance minister has a team of legal stalwarts like senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Singhvi, who have already presented their arguments, and Chidambaram doesn’t need a “crutch” to argue his case.
“Generally, only one lawyer is allowed to argue. But two able lawyers have already made the submissions (on Chidambaram’s behalf). If we allow him, then we should not oppose any accused to make submissions in person across the country. This will set a very wrong precedent. If he himself wants to make submissions then he should not be represented by any counsel,” Mehta said.
Singhvi said there are Supreme Court judgments which say that an accused can make submissions. He was supplemented by Sibal, who said, “Only the accused may say what he exactly wants to say”. To this, Mehta said, “Only when there is no lawyer.”
The court suggested Chidambaram, “You may tell your lawyer whatever you want to say.” However, Singhvi said, “It’s just a matter of two minutes my lord”.
Thereafter, the court allowed Chidamabaram to make the submissions after which he spoke briefly.
Clad in a white ‘mundu’ paired with a full-sleeve white shirt, Chidambaram told the court that on 6 June 2018, when he was called by the agency for questioning for the first time and he had answered all the questions put before him.
“On 6 June 2018, please ask for the transcript.. there is no question which has not been answered. The allegation of 5 million $ whatever was never put before me. Only question. They only asked if I had a foreign (bank) account, I said no. I was then asked if my son had (foreign bank account) to which I said yes ‘My son has with the RBI’s permission’,” he told the court.
Soon after his submission was over, the court reserved its order and the judge left the court room.
The order was pronounced about one-and-a-half hour later. Till then Chidambaram spent time talking to his wife Nalini and son Karti along with lawyer colleagues and party members, including former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat.
Before Chidambaram was produced before the court, heavy deployment of security personnel was made in and around the courtroom. The moment CBI brought Chidambaram in the court room, he went straight towards his family members and lawyers and discussed about his case.
He appeared calm and wore a smile on his face while he stood in the box meant for the accused.