New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday granted interim bail to six bureaucrats who were part of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) which granted approval to INX Media during P Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister.
The bureaucrats had applied for bail earlier today. The court issued a notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on their bail plea and slated the matter to December 17 for further hearing.
The interim bail is a temporary bail for a period in which the court can ask for documents to be presented which are required to make a final decision on the bail application.
Subsequently, it can either grant permanent bail, extend interim bail or reject bail application altogether.
While Chidambaram is out on bail in the INX Media corruption case being probed by the CBI, the summons was issued to the bureaucrats and other accused after the court took cognizance of the charge sheet filed by the agency last month.
Those who have moved the bail plea include Ajeet Kumar Dungdung, the then Section Officer, and Rabindra Prasad, the then Under Secretary and Prabodh Saxena, Director, FIPB unit of Finance Ministry, Pradeep Kumar Bagga, the then Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Anup K Pujari, the then Joint Secretary and Sindhushree Khullar, Additional Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs.
The case pertains to FIPB clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during the tenure of Chidambaram as the finance minister. CBI had registered a corruption case in this regard in May 2017.
Chidambaram was first arrested by the agency on August 21 but was granted bail by the Supreme Court two months later.
The CBI had then filed a chargesheet against 14 accused, including P Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram, his accountant S Bhaskaran, former INX Media director Peter Mukerjea, INX Media, INX News, Chess Management Services Private Limited, Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited, and a handful of bureaucrats.
The accused were charged for the criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and for taking gratification and criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.
Indrani Mukerjea, who was the former INX Media director, was however pardoned after she turned approver in the case and her name was not mentioned in the charge sheet as an accused.
The CBI in its charge sheet revealed that Karti Chidambaram had influenced public servants to extend favours to the INX Media and also used false invoices as a genuine document to demand an illegal gratification of Rs 10 lakh from the company.
The investigating agency had then told the court that it has necessary sanctions to prosecute all the accused, including the public servants, in the case.
While P Chidambaram, Karti Chidambaram, Peter Mukerjea are out on bail, accountant Bhaskaran has availed an anticipatory bail. The public servants were, however, never arrested.