INX Media case: Supreme Court reserves verdict on P Chidambaram’s bail plea

PTI New Delhi | Updated on November 28, 2019 Published on November 28, 2019

P Chidambaram, former Finance Minister. File photo   -  PTI

The ED re-arrested for the former Union Finance Minister on October 16 in the money laundering case

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on the plea filed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram seeking bail in the INX-Media money laundering case.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to submit in a sealed cover the relevant documents related to the case, which the probe agency wants to place on record for perusal of the court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, told the court that Chidambaram continues to wield “substantial influence” on crucial witnesses even from custody.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram, told the bench that there was neither any evidence linking Chidambaram directly or indirectly to it nor there was any material to show that he had influenced witnesses or tampered with any evidence.

Earlier, the ED opposed the bail plea of the senior Congress leader claiming that he continues to wield “substantial influence” on crucial witnesses even from custody.

ED opposes the bail plea

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), told a bench headed by Justice R Banumathi that economic offences are grave in nature as they not only affect the nation’s economy but also shake people’s faith in the system.

Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, that during the investigation, the ED has identified 12 bank accounts in which proceeds of crime were deposited and the agency also has details of 12 properties which were purchased in several foreign countries.

The apex court is hearing an appeal filed by 74-year-old Chidambaram challenging the Delhi High Court verdict denying him bail in the case.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, told the apex court that he has been kept in jail “unfairly” for the last 98 days just because he is the father of Karti, a key accused in the case, and there was not a “single evidence” linking him to it.

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 re-arrested him on October 16 in the consequential money laundering case related to the scam.

Assailing the Delhi High Court’s November 15 order dismissing his bail plea, Sibal told the bench that Chidambaram has been “unfairly kept in custody for last 98 days as the idea is to keep him in jail as long as possible“.

In a counter-affidavit filed in the apex court on Tuesday, the ED alleged that Chidambaram is not entitled to bail as sufficient evidence has come on record that he has been “indulging in destruction of evidence” and influencing the witnesses.

Chidambaram, being a former Cabinet Minister, is a “very intelligent and influential man”, the ED had claimed, adding that his mere presence can intimidate witnesses at this stage and there is direct evidence which shows that he has pressured the witnesses to not join the investigation.

The CBI registered its case on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a 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 finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED lodged the money-laundering case.

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Published on November 28, 2019
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