The Delhi High Court on Friday rejected the bail plea of senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram, who is in Tihar jail over his alleged involvement in the INX Media money-laundering case.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while pronouncing the order, said that Chidambaram played an active and key role in the money laundering case. He also observed that the material collected in the money laundering case by the ED is distinct, different and independent from that of CBI case. If the economic offenders are not brought to book, it would send a wrong message to the society, the court said.
On November 8, the High Court had reserved its order on the regular bail application filed by Chidambaram after hearing the arguments of counsels for Chidambaram and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Justice Kait heard the ED’s arguments and suggested that if he reads the sealed documents submitted by the agency, he can put forward their submission to Chidambaram’s counsel without revealing crucial details.
This was opposed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who told the judge that it would set a bad precedent, following which the judge reserved the order.
While the 74-year-old senior Congress leader has sought bail saying as the evidence is documentary and in the custody of probe agencies, he cannot tamper them, the ED has opposed his plea on the ground that he has tried to influence and threaten witnesses.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a special CBI court in Delhi had extended the judicial custody of former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case till November 27.
On November 1, the Delhi High Court had rejected Chidambaram’s bail plea filed on medical grounds but directed that he be provided clean surroundings, mineral water, home-cooked food and protection from mosquitoes. The court had also directed that the senior Congress leader’s health check-ups be conducted regularly.
Chidambaram was arrested by the ED on October 16, while he was already in Tihar jail after being arrested by the CBI for corruption in the INX Media case. The ED is probing allegations of money laundering in the same case.
He has been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the CBI case. The CBI had arrested Chidambaram on August 21, and he has been in judicial custody since September 5.
The INX Media case is about alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval granted to INX Media when Chidambaram was finance minister. The CBI and ED have accused Chidambaram and his son Karti of taking kickbacks from INX Media owners Peter Mukherjea and Indrani Mukherjea. Indrani, currently in jail for the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, had in July turned approver in the INX case.