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Aircel-Maxis case: CBI allegations ‘false’, ‘baseless’, Chidambaram tells court

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P-Chidambaram; GST

Chidambaram, a former finance minister, claimed that the allegations made by the CBI were “unsubstantiated” and there was no need of his custodial interrogation, as sought by the agency.

 

New Delhi| Congress leader P Chidambaram has termed as “false” and “baseless” the allegations of the CBI before a court here that he as finance minister had unlawfully granted FIPB approval to a Mauritius-based company in the Aircel-Maxis case.

The submissions were made by the politician in his rejoinder filed in response to the reply of the probe agency. The CBI, in its reply to the anticipatory bail plea of Chidambaram, had alleged that he was not cooperating in the investigations.

The averments (by the CBI) that the applicant (Chidambaram) had usurped the power of the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, unlawfully granted the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval to Global Communication Services Ltd, Mauritius, and had chosen not to disclose facts which are in his exclusive knowledge are denied as being false, baseless and untenable, the politician said.

The rejoinder submissions were filed before Special Judge O P Saini through advocates P K Dubey and Arshdeep Singh.

It is submitted that the FIPB was chaired by the secretary, economic affairs, and included four other secretaries (industry, commerce, external affairs and overseas Indian affairs), and the secretary of the administrative ministry concerned.

“Five of them were among the senior most IAS officers and sixth was a senior IFS officer of the ministry of external affairs. Each one of them had a long and distinguished record of service,” the rejoinder said.

It said as per the normal procedure, the recommendations of the FIPB are submitted to the Ministry of Finance where they are once again examined by junior officers and then by the additional secretary and secretary before the file is put up to the competent authority (Finance Minister).

It is the FIPB that decides who is the competent authority in the given case, the rejoinder said.

“Once the CBI itself chose not to either arrest Chidambaram during investigation, i.e., from the date of registration of the FIR in 2011 until grant of interim protection by this court vide its order dated July 23, or even issue any summons directing him to appear for questioning after December 6, 2015, the CBI cannot at this stage, that too after filing of the charge sheet on July 19, oppose the grant of bail to the applicant of the ground of alleged gravity of offence, according to the rejoinder.

Chidambaram, a former finance minister, claimed that the allegations made by the CBI were “unsubstantiated” and there was no need of his custodial interrogation, as sought by the agency.

He claimed that all the evidence were documentary and already in the CBI’s possession.

No evidence has been submitted by the CBI in support of its unfounded allegation that the applicant (Chidambaram) may tamper with the witnesses or evidence, the document said. The court has extended till November 26 the protection from arrest to Chidambaram in the case.

In its reply, the CBI maintained that Chidambaram’s custodial interrogation was necessary as he was evasive and non-cooperative in the probe.

Chidambaram filed his anticipatory bail application in May. His protection from arrest has been extended from time to time.

Investigating agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have sought custodial interrogation the Congress leader, saying he has not been cooperating and, therefore, making it difficult to complete the investigation in a time-bound manner as directed by the Supreme Court.

Chidambaram has come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

In its charge sheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the CBI alleged that Chidambaram granted Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in March 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis.

The Maran brothers and the other accused named in the CBI charge sheet were discharged by the special court, which said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial.

The ED is also probing a separate money-laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which Chidambaram has been questioned by the agency and currently their anticipatory bail is pending.

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India invited as ‘Guest of Honour’ to OIC meet, Sushma Swaraj to attend

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Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour.

 

New Delhi| In a significant move, India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers’ conclave of the OIC, a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend it in Abu Dhabi next month as the ‘guest of honour’.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the invitation a “welcome recognition” of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.

Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour. The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.

The invitation to India by the OIC comes at a time when India has been mounting a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan to isolate it internationally following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and, often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.

The MEA said Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan invited Swaraj as the ‘guest of honour’ to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation.

“We see this invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level,” the MEA said in a release.

“We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. We also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world,” it said.

India is, therefore, happy to accept the invitation and thanked the leadership of the UAE for it, the ministry said.

Last year, Bangladesh proposed a restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state” of the 50-year old grouping.

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Assam hooch tragedy death toll mounts to 59, 200 taken ill

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Jorhat| At least 59 people have died and over 200 taken ill after consuming spurious liquor in tea gardens in Assam‘s Golaghat and Jorhat since Thursday night, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

The death toll is rising every minute, the minister said after visiting Jorhat Medical College Hospital (JMCH) here.

“This morning the death toll in Golaghat and Jorhat districts was 59 and 200 people have been admitted to hospitals. The death toll and the number of people admitted are changing minute by minute,” Sarma told reporters after meeting some patients at the hospital.

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100 cars gutted in fire at Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru | More than 100 cars have been gutted in to fire at the parking lot near the Aero India Show held at the Yelahankha air base in Bengaluru.

According to a local eye witness, a grass fire spread to parking area number 5 and some vehicles which were parked there have also caught fire. The fire department has stated that around 80-100 cars gutted in fire near the venue of the Aero India Show in Bengaluru.

 

Officials stated that around 10 fire engines have rushed to the spot. Responding on the incident Senior police official MNReddi tweeted, “Fire in the open field parking lot of aero show. Nearly 20 cars burnt. Fire fighting operations by Chief Fire Officer and 10 water tenders staff underway.”

Earlier on Tuesday, one fighter pilot was killed after two Surya Kiran Aircraft crashed during the rehearsal of the Aero India Show.

 

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