The Delhi High Court today extended till September 28 the interim protection from arrest granted to senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on his pleas seeking anticipatory bail in the INX Media case lodged by the ED and the CBI. The matter was mentioned before Justice A K Pathak, who asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file a reply within four weeks. During the hearing, the CBI told the court that it has already filed its reply in the case and requested for a shorter date saying that it was an important matter.
However, Justice Pathak, who initially was not inclined for shorter date, later agreed by making it clear that longer dates were given as workload was more due to shortage of judges. “Aap pehle appointments to karaiye (First get appointments done). There are more than 60 cases on the board which have to heard,” Justice Pathak observed. Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, appearing for Chidambaram, seconded the view and said the government was not making appointments which has over-burdened the judges. Senior advocates Dayan Krishnan, Mohit Mathur and advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey also appeared for Chidambaram.
On July 25, the high court had granted interim protection to Chidambaram from arrest and directed the ED not to take any coercive step till August 1 against him in the INX Media money laundering case. It had directed Chidambaram to cooperate with the ED’s investigation as and when required and not leave the country without the court’s prior permission. 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-1 government that clearances from the FIPB were given to the two ventures. In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15 last year, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance to the media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, the ED had last year lodged the money laundering case in this regard.
A trial court here had also granted protection from arrest till August 7 to Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case in which he and his son Karti were named in the charge sheet filed by the CBI recently. Chidambaram’s petition had said 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, which was investigating the scheduled offence.