Supreme Court: The bench of R Banumathi and A S Bopanna, JJ has extended the protection from arrest given to former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate till Tuesday. The bench also dismissed the petition filed by senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram for anticipatory bail in the corruption case lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), saying the plea has become “infructuous” as he had already been arrested.
The bench will continue hearing on Tuesday the petition of Chidambaram challenging the Delhi High Court order which had rejected his anticipatory bail plea in the money laundering case.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram completed his arguments and said he will file the rejoinder to the ED’s counter affidavit.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for ED, said he will advance his arguments Tuesday and the bench posted the matter for hearing at noon tomorrow.
During the pre-lunch session, Sibal said that fair trial and fair investigation were part of Article 21 and the court must protect the fundamental right of liberty of Chidambaram. He strongly objected to Mehta’s argument to place on record certain documents in sealed cover for the perusal of the bench.
He said that Chidambaram was examined thrice by the ED — on December 19, 2018, January 1, 2019 and January 21, 2019 — but the questions related to the allegations levelled by the ED against him were not put to him.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the 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 the finance minister.
Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case against him in 2017.
Sibal said FIPB consisted of six secretaries of the government, and Chidambaram had only signed the approval as the then finance minister. He further argued,
“The ED has alleged the use of shell companies in the matter but no such firm is directly or indirectly connected to Chidambaram,”
He also said that Chidambaram was not named in the ED’s FIR and no allegations were levelled against him.
Chidambaram, 73, headed the ministries of finance and home during the UPA regime.
(Source: India Today)