The senior Congress leader has been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI.
The Delhi High Court Thursday sought response of the Enforcement Directorate on a bail plea of senior Congress leader and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX media money-laundering case. Justice Suresh Kait issued a notice to the ED on the bail application and asked the agency to file its reply within a week. The court fixed the matter for further hearing on November 4.
Chidambaram, 74, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the INX media corruption case filed by the CBI, is under the ED’s custody that ends on Thursday. Central government’s standing counsel Amit Mahajan, representing the ED, sought time to file response to the bail plea.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram, said the Congress leader has already stayed in ED’s custody for seven days. ED had earlier called Chidambaram for questioning four times and after being arrested by the CBI in the corruption case when he approached the court to surrender in the money laundering case, the probe agency refused to take his custody, he said.
Singhvi added that when the 60 day period of custody in the CBI case was approaching and Chidambaram would have been entitled for bail, ED arrested him and took him into custody. He referred to the Supreme Court’s October 22 order granting bail to Chidambaram in the CBI case and said that it has stated there was no evidence of tampering, flight risk and influencing witnesses against Chidambaram in corruption case. He was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case.
The case was registered on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in a 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 finance minister.
The CBI on October 18 filed its charge sheet naming Chidambaram and several others as accused in the INX media corruption case. The trial court took cognisance of the charge sheet on October 21 and subsequently, on October 22, the apex court granted him regular bail in the matter.
Chidambaram has also contended in his application that both the CBI and ED case arise out of the same financial transaction and therefore, there cannot be separate remand for both. The application contends that since all the evidence in the case is documentary and is in the custody of investigating agencies, he cannot tamper with it.
The plea further claims that Chidambaram was always available for questioning by the ED and had appeared before the agency and answered all questions on all the four dates he was summoned, the last being February 8. He has further said that no attempt was made by ED to question him, till October 16, while he was lodged in Tihar Jail since September 5.
On October 16, the ED interrogated Chidambaram in Tihar Jail and then formally arrested him “for the specious reason of being evasive” during questioning, the plea claimed. The application has also contended that Chidambaram’s health condition is “fragile” as he is 74-years-old and suffers from various ailments, including coronary artery disease.