The Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its order on the regular bail application filed by 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 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.
When the hearing began, the judge asked Mehta how many witnesses the agency had examined between October 24 and 30, when Chidambaram was in their custody. Mehta said three witnesses were summoned and while two did not appear, the third gave a handwritten letter and the witness is “so scared” that he does not want to be confronted with Chidambaram. Mehta said he would place relevant documents to satisfy the court’s conscience.
The HC pointed said Chidambaram’s counsel had argued that up to October 24, there was no allegation of influencing witnesses and on October 30, when they sought extension of his police custody, which was denied by the trial court, the ED argued that he tried to influence witnesses. To this, Mehta said the contention would only come while arguing on the bail application and not at the time of seeking his police custody.
Chidambaram, through his counsel Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Arshdeep Singh, sought bail saying that as the evidence is documentary and in the custody of probe agencies, he cannot tamper with it.
Sibal said the probe agency’s case was never that the Congress leader tried to influence witnesses, but suddenly in October, it was alleged that he had tried to influence key witnesses.
“I am in jail. I do not have a phone. I am meeting my family members… If they attribute a particular act to me I can respond, but they give it in a sealed cover. This is the problem with the sealed cover. I don’t know what they have said. Is that the influence that he (witness) would come and write a letter?” Sibal said.