INX media case: Chidambaram fails to get urgent audience in SC against Delhi HC order

PTI New Delhi | Updated on August 20, 2019 Published on August 20, 2019

P Chidambaram, former Finance Minister

Congress leader P Chidambaram, facing threats of arrest in the INX media scam, failed to get an audience from Chief Justice (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday for the urgent hearing of his appeal in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.

A team of lawyers led by senior advocate and Chidambaram’s party colleague Kapil Sibal was told by Registrar (Judicial) to mention the petition on Wednesday morning in the apex court.

Sibal was the first senior advocate to reach the apex court to meet Chidambaram and the two were seen rushing from one corridor to another to meet officials including the secretary general and CJI’s staff for having word with Justice Gogoi.

Later, they went to a consultation room and were joined by other senior advocates and party colleagues, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Salman Khurshid.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, who had appeared for Chidambaram in the High Court on Tuesday, also joined them later.

One of the lawyers from the team said the petition challenging the High Court order was yet to be filed in the top court.

After hectic parleys, Sibal said he has been informed by an apex court official to mention the petition on Wednesday at 10:30 am before an appropriate bench.

He said that as Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will be sitting in the Constitution bench for hearing the Ayodhya case, the petition is to be mentioned before the senior-most judge, who is not on the Constitution bench.

Sibal said that in all probability, the senior-most judge would be Justice N V Ramana, who is number three in seniority after CJI and Justice S A Bobde.

Both CJI and Justice Bobde are part of the five-judge Constitution bench hearing the Ayodhya case.

Sibal said the team is yet to get the copy of the Delhi High Court judgement.

Minutes after the High Court decision when Sibal tried to get the matter before the CJI, he was asked by a Supreme Court official to place Chidambaram’s petition before Registrar (judicial) who will take call on putting it before the Chief Justice of India.

Sibal met Registrar (judicial) Surya Pratap Singh and explained to him the situation and explored as to what could be done.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had dismissed Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea in a corruption and money laundering cases related to the INX Media scandal.

Justice Sunil Gaur denied relief to Chidambaram. “Both the petitions (in CBI and ED case) are dismissed,” said Justice Gaur.

After the court pronounced the order, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Chidambaram, sought stay on the operation of the order for three days, to which the court said that it will consider the request and will pass order on it.

During the arguments, both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had opposed Chidambaram’s plea on the ground that his custodial interrogation was required as he was evasive during questioning. Both the probe agencies had contended that during Chidambaram’s tenure as Finance Minister, FIPB clearance was granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007.

ED contended that the companies in which money was transferred are directly or indirectly controlled by Chidambaram’s son, Karti, and they have a reason to believe that the FIPB approval was granted to INX Media on his son’s intervention.

The High Court had on July 25, 2018 granted interim protection from arrest to Chidambaram in both the cases and it was extended from time to time. The senior Congress leader’s role had come under the scanner of various investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

It was during his tenure as finance minister in the UPA-I government that clearances from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) were given to the two ventures.

In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as Finance Minister. Thereafter, the ED in 2018 lodged the money laundering case in this regard.

Chidambaram’s petition had said that though no summons had ever been served on him by the ED in this case, he had an apprehension of arrest in view of the summons issued to him by the CBI.

Published on August 20, 2019
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