India

P Chidambaram, India's ex-finance minister, remanded in custody

The CBI team leaves with Chidambaram from his Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi Wednesday night Image copyright Press Trust of India
Image caption Mr Chidambaram is a former finance minister

India's former finance minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, has been remanded in police custody by a federal investigative court.

The four-day remand enables him to be interrogated by officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

He is being investigated over allegations that he cleared foreign investments in exchange for bribes while he was finance minister in 2007.

Mr Chidambaram, 73, has denied any wrongdoing.

He appeared before the court on Thursday evening following his arrest amid chaotic scenes on Wednesday night.

'Vendetta'

The court ruled that during his remand, he would have daily access to his family and lawyers and would undergo a medical check-up every 48 hours.

A senior member of the main opposition Congress party and an MP since 1984, Mr Chidambaram has also served as home minister.

Officers from the CBI scaled the walls of his Delhi home on Wednesday to arrest him. Chaotic scenes unfolded as supporters and media surrounded his car as he was driven away.

The Delhi High Court had rejected an application for bail on Tuesday and hours before his arrest Mr Chidambaram's legal team had approached the Supreme Court.

His lawyer told the court that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was carrying out a "politically-motivated vendetta" against Mr Chidambaram and his son, Karti, who is also implicated in the case.

Senior Congress leaders have also accused the BJP of "misusing power".

The BJP has not responded to the allegations, but its spokesperson told the NDTV news website that Congress should be ashamed that Mr Chidambaram had turned into an "absconder".

Earlier on Wednesday, the CBI had said they could not find Mr Chidambaram. But he then appeared at a press conference to reject accusations that he had been "hiding from the law", saying he had instead been consulting with his lawyers.

A Harvard Business School graduate, Mr Chidambaram has served as finance minister four times.

His first two stints - between June 1996 and March 1998 - were in successive coalition governments, both of which collapsed about a year after they were formed. During his brief second term, he slashed taxes, including corporate rates, as part of what the Indian media hailed as a "dream budget".

He again served as finance minister under the Congress-led government from 2004 to 2008 before he was appointed home minister. He replaced Shivraj Patil, who resigned amid criticism in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Chidambaram's son, Karti Chidambaram, is a Congress party MP

He is also a lawyer and has practised in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court.

He is being questioned over allegations that he cleared foreign direct investment worth tens of millions of dollars to INX Media in 2007 when he was finance minister. Karti Chidambaram allegedly received kickbacks from INX at the time that the investment was cleared by the finance ministry.

Both men, who strongly deny the allegations, are being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which investigates financial crimes.

The CBI arrested Karti Chidambaram in 2018, but he was later released on bail. He is a Congress MP from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

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