Chidambaram, who is lodged in Tihar jail, has challenged the September 30 verdict of the HC which denied him bail in the case.
The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the CBI on a petition by former Union finance minister P Chidambaram challenging a Delhi high court order that denied him bail in the INX Media case. A bench led by Justice R Banumathi, while issuing notice to the investigative agency, posted the matter for further hearing on October 15.
Chidambaram, who is lodged in Tihar jail, has challenged the September 30 verdict of the HC which denied him bail in the case. Chidambaram, 74, is in custody since his arrest by the investigative agency on August 21. The trial court on Thursday extended Chidambaram’s judicial custody till October 17.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram, argued that the HC had applied three tests — flight risk, tampering of evidence and influencing of witnesses — while deciding the bail petition. While on two counts — flight risk and tampering of evidence — the HC ruled in favour of Chidambaram, the senior Congress leader lost on the third count of influencing witnesses.
When enquired about the the ED’s case, Sibal said that the Enforcement Directorate had not yet arrested Chidambaram in the money laundering case related to the INX Media. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta represented the CBI in the case.
The former minister in his appeal to the top court said that he had suffered over 40 days of incarceration, including the maximum permissible period of 15 days of CBI remand. “His continuing incarceration is in the form of punishment as his custody can neither be taken nor is required for the purpose of investigation,” he stated in his appeal.
Chidambaram maintained that at ‘no point in time, whether prior to the lodging of the FIR dated May 15, 2017 or thereafter, has he approached or influenced any of the alleged material witnesses (accused) or even attempted to do so, directly or indirectly.”
He further added that the HC had rendered ‘conclusive findings’ on the basis of documents placed before it by the CBI in a ‘sealed envelope’ which were neither part of the record nor shown to him, thus he had no opportunity to rebut the same.
Stating that the case does not relate to ‘economic offence’ and there is no loss to public exchequer, the senior leader also denied the high court’s finding that INX Media’s former promoters Indrani and Peter Mukherjea had met him and ‘illegal gratification’ was paid.
However, the HC had noted that it was on record that illegal gratification had been paid by and through other companies by Indrani and Peter to the firms controlled and owned by the ‘co-conspirator and co-accused Karti’, Chidambaram’s son.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of `305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.