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Chidambaram gets interim protection from SC in ED case

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 23, 2019 Published on August 23, 2019

Former finance minister P Chidambaram   -  PTI

A Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice R Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna on Friday granted former Finance Minister P Chidambaram interim protection from arrest till August 26 in the case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate.

After hearing lengthy oral arguments from Chidambaram’s senior counsel — Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal — and also from the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, who represents the ED, the Bench found merit in Chidambaram’s plea for interim protection till the next date of hearing.

Essentially, the Bench took note of two factors as favouring grant of interim protection to Chidambaram, which was opposed by Mehta. One, the Delhi High Court too had granted interim protection to Chidambaram on July 25, 2018, extending the same up to August 20, 2019, when it dismissed his petition for anticipatory bail. Second, the co-accused in the case, especially, Chidambaram’s son, Karti Chidambaram, was also granted bail by the Delhi High Court in the same case, thus entitling Chidambaram the benefit of parity.

Setback to prosecution

As the Delhi High Court had rejected both the grounds in its August 20 order, it could be said the Supreme Court’s Friday order is a setback to the prosecution, insofar as it is a clear disagreement with the High Court’s order.

On Friday, Mehta argued vociferously against the grant of interim protection to Chidambaram till August 26 in view of his earlier history of evading queries “using his mental faculties, grasp of law and political clout”. He also tried to persuade the Bench that the allegations against him involved several shell companies and foreign bank accounts, which could only be unravelled during custodial interrogation.

The Bench agreed with Chidambaram’s counsel that his appeal against the High Court’s denial of anticipatory bail should not be construed as infructuous, as urged by Mehta. As Chidambaram was denied the opportunity of being heard against the order refusing anticipatory bail to him, his counsel would like to make submission in the case notwithstanding his arrest, the Bench noted in its order.

The Bench has also agreed to hear Chidambaram’s petition against Thursday’s order by the CBI Judge handing over his custody to the CBI for custodial interrogation till August 26. It implies that its hearing would have an impact on the hearing before the CBI Judge on that day, when the CBI is likely to seek extension of Chidambaram’s custody.

 

 

 

Published on August 23, 2019
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