Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX Media case filed by the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday. The order means that Chidambaram will walk out of Tihar Jail after being under arrest for more than 100 days. The top court directed Chidambaram to furnish a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh along with two sureties of the same amount. The apex court also told Chidambaram that he won’t be able to travel abroad without its permission. Other key points about the top court’s order were- Chidambaram must not tamper with evidence, influence witnesses; the Congress leader won’t give press interviews or make public statements in connection with the case.
A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi had on November 28 reserved judgment on the appeal filed by Chidambaram who has challenged the November 15 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him bail in the case.
During the arguments, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had claimed in the Supreme Court that the 74-year-old former finance minister continues to wield "substantial influence" on crucial witnesses in the case even from the custody, while he said the agency cannot "destroy" his career and reputation by making baseless allegations.
Opposing his bail plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, had maintained that economic offences like money-laundering are grave in nature as they not only affect the nation's economy but also shake people's faith in the system, especially when it is committed by people in power.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the former union finance minister, had countered Mehta's submissions and said there was neither any evidence linking Chidambaram directly or indirectly with the alleged offence nor there was any material to show that he had influenced witnesses or tampered with any evidence.
Chidambaram was first arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case and was granted bail by the top court on October 22.
The ED had arrested him on October 16 in the money laundering case. The CBI registered its case on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a FIPB clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister.
Thereafter, the ED had lodged a money-laundering case.