The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the response of the Enforcement Directorate on a bail plea of senior Congress leader and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX media money-laundering case. Justice Suresh Kait issued a notice to the ED on the bail application and asked the agency to file its reply within a week. The court fixed the matter for further hearing on November 4. Chidambaram (74), who was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the INX media corruption case, is under the ED's custody that ends on Thursday.
In the bail application, Chidambaram has averred that ED had arrested him with mala fide intention to harm his reputation. The Congress leader cited Tuesday’s observations by the SC that he is not a "flight risk" and is unlikely to influence witnesses when all evidence is documents-based, nor is there a possibility of "his absconding from the trial". The application contended that Chidambaram’s health condition is "fragile" as he is 74 years old and suffers from various ailments, including coronary artery disease. Chidambaram, incidentally, was granted bail by the SC in the same case relating to corruption charges being prosecuted by the CBI.
At present, he is in the ED’s custody till Thursday. He was arrested by the CBI on August 21. The former finance minister contended in his application that both the CBI and ED case arise out of the same financial transaction and there cannot be separate custody for them. Chidambaram has also pointed out that other accused in the case, including his son Karti, are all out on bail. He has underlined that since the time the probe began against him, he "has made no attempt to suborn witnesses, tamper with documentary evidence or in any other manner pollute or obstruct the judicial process".
The application contends that since all the evidence in the case is documentary and is in the custody of investigating agencies, he cannot tamper with it. The plea further claims that Chidambaram was always available for questioning by the ED and had appeared before the agency and answered all questions on all the four dates he was summoned, the last being February 8. Chidambaram further said that no attempt was made by the ED to question him till October 16, while he was lodged in Tihar Jail since September 5.
On October 17, the Special CBI Court at Rouse Avenue had remanded Chidambaram to ED custody till October 24 in the money laundering case filed against the Senior Advocate. The INX Media case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media when P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister of India.