Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court Wednesday in the INX Media money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate. A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi set aside a Delhi High Court order dismissing Chidambaram’s bail plea but agreed that the offences against him could be treated as ‘grave’.
Chidambaram, 74, will walk out of Tihar jail in New Delhi Wednesday, 106 days after he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with its corruption probe in the case.
While the CBI is probing alleged irregularities in FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when P Chidambaram was Union Finance Minister, the ED is investigating the money laundering allegations.
Chidambaram gets bail in INX Media case: A timeline of events
May 15, 2017: CBI files FIR, alleging irregularities in FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Karti Chidambaram’s father P Chidambaram was Union Finance Minister.
* The same month, ED files money laundering case in the matter.
June 16, 2017: Foreigner Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) and Bureau of Immigration, under Union Home Ministry, issues look-out circular (LOC) against Karti.
August 10, 2017: Madras HC stays LOCs issued against Karti and four others.
Aug 14, 2017: Supreme Court stays HC order.
Aug 18, 2017: SC asks Karti to appear before CBI on August 23.
Sept 11, 2017: CBI tells SC it has furnished details in a sealed cover on the probe about “possible transactions” abroad and 25 alleged offshore properties of Karti.
Sept 22, 2017: CBI tells SC that Karti was prevented from travelling abroad as he was allegedly closing foreign bank accounts.
Oct 9, 2017: Karti seeks SC’s nod to visit the UK to get his daughter admitted at Cambridge University.
Oct 9, 2017: P Chidambaram tells SC that the BJP-led government has been carrying on a “politically-motivated vendetta” against him and his son.
Nov 20, 2017: SC allows Karti to visit the UK for daughter’s admission.
Dec 8, 2017: Karti moves SC challenging summons issued by CBI against him in Aircel-Maxis case.
Feb 28, 2018: Karti arrested by CBI at Chennai airport and brought to Delhi. Delhi court sends him to one-day police custody.
March 5, 2018: Karti moves SC to challenge ED summons issued in money laundering case.
March 6, 2018: Special court sends Karti to 3-day CBI custody.
March 12, 2018: Court sends Karti to 12-day judicial custody. Karti moves Delhi HC seeking bail in the corruption case.
March 15, 2018: SC gives interim protection to Karti from arrest by ED.
March 23, 2018: Delhi HC grants bail to Karti in INX Media corruption case.
May 30, 2018: Chidambaram moves Delhi HC seeking anticipatory bail plea in CBI corruption case.
July 23, 2018: Cong leader moves Delhi HC for an anticipatory bail in money laundering case of ED.
July 25, 2018: HC grants him interim protection from arrest in both cases.
October 11, 2018: ED attaches 50% of Chidambaram’s Jor Bagh bungalow
July 11, 2019: Sheena Bora murder case accused and INX Media owner Indrani Mukherjea turns approver
August 20: HC dismisses anticipatory bail pleas, declines Chidambaram’s request to stay the order for three days to enable him to appeal in SC.
August 21: Supreme Court lists Chidambaram’s petition seeking a stay of Delhi HC order that dismissed his anticipatory bail plea.
On the same day, Chidambaram is arrested.
August 22: Chidambaram produced before Special CBI Court in Delhi and is remanded to CBI custody till August 26. The court finds allegations against him in the INX Media case “serious in nature” for which a “detailed and in-depth investigation is required”.
September 5: SC dismisses his plea in ED case challenging high court order denying pre-arrest bail. A bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said granting anticipatory bail to Chidambaram at this stage will hamper investigations.
September 11: Chidambaram moves Delhi HC seeking regular bail in CBI case. In his plea, Chidambaram claims the probe is “borne out of political vendetta” and that the investigating agency is acting at the behest of the Union government.
September 26: Delhi HC reserves order on Chidambaram bail plea in CBI probe.
September 30: Delhi HC quashes Chidambaram’s bail plea in CBI case. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait observes that despite the fact that Chidambaran is former Union finance minister, home minister and presently a Member of Parliament with deep roots in society and long-standing in the Bar, the “possibility” of him influencing witnesses cannot be ruled out.
Justice Kait said: “A murder may be committed in the heat of moment upon passions being aroused. However, an economic offence is committed with cool calculation and deliberate design with an eye on personal profit, regardless of the consequence to the community.”
On the same day, Chidambaram challenges Delhi HC order in SC.
October 3: Chidambaram moves SC seeking bail in CBI case.
October 16: Chidambaram, who is already lodged in Tihar jail, is arrested again by the ED. “The accused will be confronted with fresh evidence, especially those related to specific inputs from overseas banks accounts and properties. The accused also has to be confronted with details related to shell companies found during investigations,” ED sources tell The Indian Express.
October 18: CBI files chargesheet in INX Media case.
October 22: SC grants Chidambaram bail in CBI case. A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy directs Chidambaram to deposit his passport and says he cannot leave the country without obtaining permission from the Court. It also orders him to furnish a bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties.
October 23: Chidambaram moves Delhi HC seeking bail in the ED case. In his petition, Chidambaram says he is “innocent and has been wrongly implicated”. He adds that he has already “suffered two bouts of illness and was put on antibiotics for five and seven days respectively.”
October 25: CBI moves SC, seeking review of its judgment granting bail to Chidambaram.
November 15: Delhi HC denies Chidambaram bail in ED case.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while pronouncing the order, says Chidambaram played an active and key role in the money laundering case. He adds that the material collected 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.
November 18: Chidambaram moves SC challenging Delhi HC order denying bail in ED case. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared on behalf of Chidambaram, said the leader has been in jail for around 90 days.
“We will see,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde says.
November 28: SC reserves order on Chidambaram bail plea in ED case.
December 4: SC grants Chidambaram bail in INX Media case on the conditions that he furnishes a bail bond of Rs 2 lakhs and two sureties of like amount. It also orders him not to give press interviews in connection with the case, tamper with evidence or try to influence witnesses. The ruling paves way for Chidambaram to walk out of Tihar jail.