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tihar, P Chidambaram
Business & Finance Business Tit-Bits

Same Crime, Many Punishments

The former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader, Mr. P. Chidambaram has now been
in jail for long and continues to be so. A case was registered against him by the CBI on
15.5.2017 and he was finally arrested by the CBI on 21.8.2019 on charges of corruption and
misuse of power in the INX Media case. The bare facts of the case, as revealed by the
infamous Indrani Mukherjee, (presently languishing in a Mumbai jail for the murder of her
daughter), the promoter of INX Media, who has turned approver, are that she paid huge sums
to Karti Chidambaram in 2007 for obtaining FIPB approvals and condoning major foreign
investment violations. The FIPB which gave this illegal approval and also condoned the
serious violations by INX Media, was then headed by Mr. Chidambaram in his capacity as
the FM. For a quid pro quo, not only did INX Media bring in foreign investment of Rs.305
crores, as against a FIPB approval of a mere Rs.4.62 crores, but that was even invested into
prohibited sectors, which Mr. Chidambaram condoned for bribes taken by his son. The CBI
has gathered huge evidence against him, in support of its criminal charges.

While the CBI was investigating the INX Media case, so was the ED for different offences,
related to the same transactions. It registered a case of money laundering against him in 2017
and arrested Mr. Chidambaram on 16.10.19, negating the bail granted by the Supreme Court
in the CBI case on 22.10.19, such that he has remained in the custody of one investigation
agency or the other since August 21, 2019. The Delhi High Court took cognisance of these
multiple charges and investigations against Mr.Chidambaram and denied bail to him
yesterday. It said that the charges against him are of a serious nature and that the evidence
collected by the ED in the money laundering case is distinct, different and independent of that
collected by the CBI in the corruption case. The High Court pertinently said that this is a
serious economic offence and that the investigation done by the ED in this case is different
from that by the CBI and that he cannot be granted bail, or else a wrong signal will be sent to
society. In other words the parallel investigations by the ED and CBI for different offences
related to the same transaction are justified.

In yet another case where a few road repair contractors of the BMC were raided by the ITD
and were found to be involved in large scale income tax evasion of almost Rs.750 crores,
through bogus entities, bogus bills, loans etc. parallel investigation and proceedings are likely

to be initiated by the ED on charges of money laundering. These contracts have the blessing
of the corrupt politicians who rule the BMC and will face an all round investigation and
punishment, not just related to tax evasion, but also money laundering, benami deals and
indulging incorrupt activities.

Due to a spate of legislative changes and particularly new laws enacted in the Modi regime,
India is now witnessing multiple investigation and punishment under different laws, for the
same crime. The Benami law was enforced in the Modi regime, the Black Money law was
enacted and FEMA, Company Law and the IT Act have been considerably strengthened.
Take the well known case of manipulation of ICICI Bank accounts and loans for bribes under
the Chanda Kochhar tenure. She is under investigation/potential prosecution by SEBI, CBI,
MCA and ITD as well, for malpractices/misconduct committed by her. Or take the giant
fraud of ILFS which faces investigation and punishment by the CBI, RBI, SFIO, ITD, SEBI
and the MCA, under different laws, but for the same transactions. A typical income tax raid
involving large scale tax evasion now attracts punishment under the ITA of for tax evasion,
money laundering laws for hawala/money laundering, ED for FEMA and foreign transactions
violations and under the Benami Law and under GST, at the least. It looks harsh and
harassment prone, but unless all the aspects of an illegal transaction are not tackled and
punished, we will not be able to root out such economic and financial crimes, which at times
are much more serious than any other crime, as pointed out by the High Court judge who
rejected the bail of Mr. P. Chidambaram.

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