INX Media Case: Supreme Court to hear P Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea today
The Supreme Court is all set hear the anticipatory bail plea of former Union Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case today. His appeal would be heard by a bench comprising Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna. A day before on Thursday, the special court sent the former Finance Minister to 5-day CBI custody after heated hearing between prosecution and the defence. The top court had turned down Chidambaram’s plea for prompt hearing in the matter on Wednesday after the Deli High Court rejected his bail. On Wednesday, after intense, high-voltage drama, the senior Congress leader was arrested from his posh south Delhi home by the CBI team.
On Thursday, Chidambaram was sent to CBI custody till August 26 by a Delhi court in the INX Media corruption case. Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar heard the arguments of CBI and Chidambaram's counsel for over one-and-a half-hour before sending Chidambaram to CBI remand till Monday. The arrest happened after he had failed to get protection from the Supreme Court, which did not list for an urgent hearing his appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict dismissing his anticipatory bail plea on Tuesday.
Chidambaram was produced before a CBI court at Rouse Avenue Court complex on Thursday afternoon. CBI demanded five-day custody of Chidambaram pleading that the custodial interrogation was justified.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who argued for the CBI, said that the former Finance Minister was "evasive" and "non-cooperative" in the investigation. Mehta said that the case, which is a classic example of money laundering, is in the pre-charge sheet stage.
Congress party leaders and senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek M Singhvi argued on the behalf of the former union minister. Kapil Sibal argued that all the accused in the case were on bail including Bhaskar Raman, Karti Chidambaram, Peter and Indrani Mukherjea. He also said the FIPB approval was given by senior officials, who were not arrested.
He also contended that grant of bail was a rule and the issue before the court was of personal liberty. Sibal contended that what the agency said be not taken as "gospel truth".
He said that Chidambaram was asked 12 questions and he had already answered six of them previously. Sibal said Chidambaram had requested the agency sleuths to take him in custody on Thursday morning as he had not slept for last 24 hours. But they did not listen to him and took him last night itself, he said.
Sibal further argued that CBI could have written a letter to Chidambaram for producing the documents alleged to be in his possession and the agency cannot say he was evasive during the investigation.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.