[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram till August 26 in the INX Media case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.
However, the senior Congress leader and a Rajya Sabha member will remain in CBI custody. The bench of Justices Bhanumati and AS Bopanna also posted to August 26 for hearing Chidambaram’s petition seeking pre-arrest bail in the CBI case. The CBI court had earlier remanded him to custody till August 26.
The bench also noted that the High Court had earlier granted interim protection.
Opposing the bail plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the application for anticipatory bail was no longer maintainable after Chidambaram was remanded to CBI custody.
The bench adjourned the bail application in respect of the CBI case till August 26
Chidambaram’s lawyer Kapil Sibal argued that the observation made by the single judge of Delhi High Court regarding money laundering deals between various entities were just ‘copy paste’ from the argument note submitted by the respondents in the case after the oral hearing was closed. Chidambaram and his advocates had no notice of the contents of the note, he said, adding this reflects the biased mindset of the judge to deny bail without properly hearing Chidambaram.
Denying the charge, the Solicitor General said the argument note was submitted before the oral hearings were completed. He said custodial interrogation was necessary because Chidambaram had been evading queries “using his mental faculties, grasp of law and political clout.”
The Solicitor General cited the confessional statement of Indrani Mukherjee, who has turned approver in the case, to submit that Chidambaram had demanded kickbacks for FIPB clearance for FDI in INX.
Tushar Mehta said, “Chidambaram has 17 foreign bank accounts, 10 properties abroad and there is a convoluted money trail which he needs to be confronted with. There is electronic evidence of emails exchanged between parties for money laundering. Shell companies were created abroad by someone close to him. So, we need to confront him with all these evidence. ”
The cases against Chidambaram were registered by CBI and ED in 2017 and 2018 respectively.