SC to hear Centre's plea over action against Karti Chidambaram

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the Centre's plea against the Madras High Court's order staying its lookout notice against Karti Chidambaram, son of former cabinet minister P Chidambaram, and others in an alleged corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said it will hear the plea today itself after it finishes hearing listed matters.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, sought an urgent hearing of the plea against the Congress party leader's son.

Karti Chidambaram had moved the Madras High Court on 4 August against the lookout notice, and the court stayed the 'lookout circulars' on 10 August. The CBI on 18 July issued the notice under Section 10B of the Passport Act to prevent Karti Chidambaram from leaving the country.

The Centre had issued the lookout circulars against Chidambaram and four others over a corruption case filed by the CBI, but the HC held that they were prima facie ''unwarranted''.

Besides Karti, his associates C B N Reddy, Ravi Viswanathan, Mohanan Rajesh and S Bhaskararaman had also got the interim relief.

Noting that the impugned circular had been issued just a day after the notice was sent under the relevant sections of the Criminal Procedure Code sections asking Karti to appear on 29 June for questioning, the high court had said, ''this…according to this court, is prima facie unwarranted''.

In his petition, Karti has contended that the lookout circular was part of the central government's ''political vendetta'' and issued ''arbitrarily'' without jurisdiction to prevent him from travelling abroad.

He also said he had responded to the summonses issued by the CBI in connection with the case and there was ''no absolute cause of action'' for issuance of the circular.

The case is related to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds when Karti's father was the Union Finance Minister in 2007.

The CBI had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house was ''fallacious'', but Chidambaram had cleared it.

The First Information Report dated 15 May was registered before the special CBI judge at New Delhi. It was followed by searches at the residences and offices of Karti and his associates on 16 May.