Indian court sends former Finance Minister Chidambaram into custody

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian court on Thursday ordered a former finance minister to remain in custody for a four-day interrogation, in a case arising from government approval. of a foreign investment in a local newspaper company, announced a judge.

Former Indian Minister of Finance, Palaniappan Chidambaram (C), looks on the scene as he leaves a court after the hearing that followed his arrest, in New Delhi, India on August 22 2019. REUTERS / Anushree Fadnavis

The rare action against P. Chidambaram, the top leader of the main opposition party in Congress and bitter criticism of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has led to accusations that the authorities were pursuing a political vendetta.

Chidambaram was arrested Wednesday at his home in New Delhi, after federal police officers jumped over the wall after discovering that the doors were closed. On Thursday, he appeared before a federal police court, which said he had to keep him until August 26 for further interrogation.

"Given all the facts, custody is justified," said Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar.

The allegations in the case concerned the role of Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram and several former government officials in approving foreign direct investment in the local media company INX Media in 2007.

The Central Bureau of Investigation stated that the approval was illegal and that it was "an abuse of authority".

Chidambaram, who was finance minister at the time, said the approvals had been approved by a government committee and he had no role to play. His son, who runs a consulting firm, also denied any harm.

Chidambaram, 73, looking slightly pale, appeared in court surrounded by police officers and lawyers. The court said his family could see him for 30 minutes a day while in police custody.

The congressional party accused the Modi government of bringing a false lawsuit against the former finance minister.

"The vindictive, selective and malicious manner in which the former Minister of Finance and Interior Minister P. Chidambaram was persecuted and prosecuted is nothing short of a blood feud. shameless, personal and political Modi government, "said the party in a statement.

($ 1 = 71.8600 Indian rupees)

Additional report by Nigam Prusty at NEW DELHI; Edited by Sanjeev Miglani, William Maclean

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