Ramnath Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind | ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
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His press secretary attributes it to busy schedule, says ‘no clue’ if it has anything to do with NSE chairman Ashok Chawla being named in CBI’s P. Chidambaram chargesheet.

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind has pulled out of the launch of the silver jubilee celebrations of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) this week after invitations were sent out saying he would be the chief guest.

The invitation for the event at the country’s largest stock exchange was sent by NSE chairman Ashok Chawla and managing director and CEO Vikram Limaye. It had led to some disquiet in official circles as it involved Chawla, who is chargesheeted by the CBI in the Aircel-Maxis bribery case.

The event was scheduled in New Delhi on Wednesday but the President’s press secretary, Ashok Malik, said the President had declined due to his busy schedule.

Malik said he had “no clue” when asked if the President’s decision had anything to do with Chawla’s name on the charge sheet.

“He has regretted…he has a very busy schedule this week and he is also travelling, so he has no time,” Malik told ThePrint.

Also read: Limaye’s NSE CEO job in balance, BCCI told to drop contentious deal

In a statement late Monday, NSE said that President Kovind had “communicated his inability to grace NSE’s silver jubilee celebration on 8 August due to his busy schedule”. It also said that the president had complimented NSE for its pivotal role in providing a stable, transparent and globally trusted market platform.

“Various dignitaries including cabinet ministers will attend the function,” the statement added.

Chawla, who was finance secretary before retiring in 2011, is one of 12 individuals and six firms named in the Aircel-Maxis chargesheet filed last month. The list also includes former finance minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti.

The CBI, which has been granted two months by the Delhi High Court, can prosecute Chawla only if the Modi government permits it under new provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Also read: A year of Kovind: India gets a frequent-flyer President and a more open Rashtrapati Bhavan

Chawla was appointed chairman of the Competition Commission of India by the UPA government in the same year he retired. He joined the NSE board in May 2016 and his term as chairman ends in March 2019.

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