Former Union minister P Chidambaram on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the High Court had denied him bail in the INX Media money-laundering case registered by the ED on the ground of “gravity” of the allegations and that going by this argument, no undertrial would ever get bail.
Appearing for Chidambaram, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi told a bench of Justices R Banumathi, A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy that after “satisfying” that he was not a flight risk or likely to tamper with evidence or influence witnesses, “the word gravity is used to negative all this”. Read in Tamil
“If this is accepted, all undertrials will be incarcerated till trial ends in almost every case,” he said.
“Once the attendance (for trial) is secured, bail cannot be denied except in extraordinary situations like in the case of a terrorist or a repeated or habitual offender,” Singhvi said. “Gravity will remain till end of trial. By that logic, I should be in jail till trial ends. There is no other way and that would be a ridiculous conclusion.”
The senior counsel said that Thursday was the 99th day of incarceration for Chidambaram. Giving bail to the accused would also help them defend themselves better during trial, he contended.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, also appearing for Chidambaram, said that though the witnesses were available since 2018, the ED had not cared to interrogate him. The idea was only to keep him in custody as long as possible, he said, adding that he was not interrogated after CBI custody in the INX Media graft case was over.
The money-laundering case is an offshoot of the graft case registered by the CBI.
Sibal contended that many of the findings in the HC order were the same as the ED’s submissions in its counter affidavit. He wondered “how counter affidavit becomes finding” of court and “what kind of judicial process this is”. “Not one email… not one SMS from me or to me has been found… not one document has been traced to me,” Sibal said adding that while all co-accused have been granted bail, he was still in jail on the ground of “gravity” of allegations that were accepted as gospel truth.
The ED will present its arguments on Friday.
Judicial custody extended till December 11
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday extended the judicial custody of former Union minister P Chidambaram till December 11 in connection with the INX Media money-laundering case lodged by the ED. Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar passed the order after the ED, represented by N K Matta and Nitesh Rana, sought 14-day extension of Chidambaram’s judicial custody, saying the investigation was still on. —ENS
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