Explained: Why SC allowed former Finance minister P Chidambaram’s bail application

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Published: December 5, 2019 8:02:02 AM

Former Finance minister P Chidambaram was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 21 in connection with alleged irregularities in the INX Media case.

P Chidambaram bailP Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court On Wednesday granted bail to former Finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case. The senior Congress leader was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 21 in connection with alleged irregularities in the INX Media case. In its 37-page order, the top court of the country cited several grounds for granting bail to P Chidambaram, including touching upon the issue of whether the former Finance minister was a flight risk or not. Taking these and all other facts and circumstances including the duration of custody into consideration, the appellant in our considered view is entitled to be granted bail, said the top court in its order while setting aside Delhi High Court’s order that had rejected his bail application.

In its order, the Supreme Court also referred to the ‘material’ submitted by the prosecution in a sealed cover to Delhi High Court and later to the Supreme Court. In its order, the court said that though it was not inclined to open the sealed cover but it had become ‘imperative’ for it to open and peruse the content to satisfy itself as Delhi High Court had referred to the ‘material’ submitted by the prosecution in the sealed cover while declining bail to P Chidambaram on November 15, 2019.

What SC said about the documents given in a sealed cover

“The recording of statements and the collation of material is in the nature of allegation against one of the co-accused Karti Chidambaram- son of appellant of opening shell companies and also purchasing benami properties in the name of relatives at various places in different countries,” said the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court further said: “Except for recording the same, we do not wish to advert to the documents any further since ultimately, these are allegations which would have to be established in the trial wherein the accused/co-accused would have the opportunity of putting forth their case, if any, and an ultimate conclusion would be reached.”

In a relief to the former Finance minister, the top court said that the findings recorded by the learned judge of Delhi High Court on the basis of the material given to it in the sealed cover was “not justified” in its view.

What SC said about Chidambaram being a ‘flight risk’

The Supreme Court also rejected the prosecution’s contention that the witnesses, in this case, will be required to be confronted and therefore the custody of former FM will be required.

In its order, the Supreme Court observed: “The appellant has not been named as one of the accused in the ECIR but the allegation while being made against the co-accused it is indicated the appellant who was the Finance Minister at that point, has aided the illegal transactions since one of the co-accused is the son of the appellant.”

“In addition to the custodial interrogation if further investigation is to be made, the appellant would be bound to participate in such investigation as is required by the respondent,” said the top court while rejecting the Enforcement Directorate’s plea.

The court also referred to the fact that it has already held that the former Finance minister was not a ‘flight risk’ and he was duty-bound to participate in the investigation process.

As a safety measure, the apex court did not allow the release of P Chidambaram’s passport deposited with the special court hearing the matter. It also directed that the former Finance minister will not leave the country without the prior approval of the trial court.

While granting him bail, the Supreme Court also restrained P Chidambaram from speaking to the media about the cases that he has been implicated in.

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