Appearing for Chidambaram, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the agency cannot place documents in the court randomly and "behind the back" for seeking custody of the accused.
Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram sought in the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the Enforcement Directorate be asked to produce the transcripts of his interrogation it had conducted on three dates in the INX Media money laundering case. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, told a bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna that they have filed an application seeking direction to the ED to produce the transcripts of the questioning conducted on December 19 last year, January 1, 2019 and January 21, 2019 in the case.
The transcripts will show whether Chidambaram was evasive during his questioning, as alleged by the ED, Sibal said. He told the bench that the ED cannot place documents in the court randomly and “behind the back” for seeking Chidambaram’s custody. “They are just producing documents at random and saying this is part of the case diary,” Sibal said, adding, “They cannot place the documents behind the back and seek custody of accused.”
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for Chidambaram, referred to the constitutional and legal provisions and said that fundamental right of citizens under Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) cannot be suspended. Singhvi argued that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was amended in 2009 whereas the allegations in the case are of 2007-2008. “You try and paint a person as a kingpin when these alleged offences did not exist at that time,” he told the court during the arguments which will continue in the post lunch session.
On Monday, the apex court had extended till Tuesday the protection from arrest given to Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case lodged by the ED. Chidambaram was the Union minister for finance as also home during the UPA-I and UPA-II government from 2004 to 2014.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case against him in 2017.