The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday took former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram into custody soon after he held a press conference refuting all charges against him in the INX Media case.
High drama unfolded outside Mr. Chidambaram’s residence following his arrival there after the press conference around 8.15 p.m.
A CBI team, which earlier reached the Congress headquarters, scaled the wall to enter Mr. Chidambaram’s house. An ED team, led by a Joint Director-level officer, also entered the residence.
Mr. Chidambaram’s supporters soon gathered outside, shouting slogans against the investigating agencies and the Centre.
After completing the formalities, the CBI team took custody of Mr. Chidambaram around 9.30 p.m. and drove away in a car to the CBI headquarters.
The CBI and the ED teams had started looking for Mr. Chidambaram after his plea for anticipatory bail, which was denied by the Delhi High Court, was not entertained by the Supreme Court.
Several teams attempted to track him down, but he could not be traced till he appeared at the AICC headquarters for the press conference. In a dramatic twist to the daylong drama with news channels and the ruling government questioning Mr. Chidambaram’s alleged attempts at “evading” arrest, he appeared at the Congress headquarters at 8 p.m. to address the media.
He said that in the last 24 hours much had happened that caused confusion and concern to many. “In the INX Media case, I have not been accused of any offence. Nor has anyone else, including any member of my family, been accused of any offence. In fact, there is no chargesheet by either the CBI or the ED filed before a competent court,” he said.
He also said that the FIR did not accuse him of any wrongdoing. “Yes, there is a widespread impression that grave offences have been committed. And my son and I have committed those offences. Nothing can be farther from truth. These are lies spread by pathological liars,” Mr. Chidambaram said.
He was accompanied by a battery of Congress leaders, including his legal team consisting of Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi, Vivek Tankha and Salman Khurshid. Also present were party general secretaries Ghulam Nabi Azad and K.C. Venugopal.
“I believe that the foundation of a democracy is liberty, [and the] most precious article of the Constitution is Article 21 that guarantees life and liberty. If I am asked to choose between life and liberty, I will choose liberty,” Mr. Chidambaram said.
He said that when he got summons from the CBI and the ED it was only natural that he moved the court to get interim relief.
After rejection of the bail plea in the High Court with recommendation of his lawyers he moved the apex court.
He said that he was aghast that he was being branded as an absconder.
“I was accused of running away from justice. On the contrary I was engaged in the pursuit of justice,” he added, explaining that he along with his team were working to complete the necessary papers to move the Supreme Court.
His bail plea is listed for Friday in the apex court.
“I will respect the law even if it is applied with an unequal hand by the investigating agencies,” he said.
The only way to respect the law in the present situation, Mr. Chidambaram said, is for the agencies to wait for the Supreme Court order.