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HC order on Chidambaram’s bail plea in INX Media case likely on Friday
The Delhi High Court is likely to pronounce on Friday its order on the bail plea of former Union minister P Chidambaram, who is lodged in Tihar Jail, in the INX Media money laundering case.
Justice Suresh Kait had reserved the order on November 8 on the bail petition after hearing the arguments of counsels for Chidambaram and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
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.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, had contended that the set of evidence in the money laundering case and the CBI corruption case is different and the PMLA case is more heinous and “much, much, much more serious than it meets the eyes”.
“It is the gravest of grave offence as it is an economic offence which is a standalone offence,” he had argued.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, had said since the beginning, the probe agency’s case was never that the Congress leader tried to influence witnesses, but suddenly in October, when he was in custody, it was alleged that he had tried to put pressure and influence key witnesses.
Chidambaram has denied the ED’s claim that he used the office of finance minister for personal gains and laundered the proceeds of crime, saying no material directly or indirectly linking him with the alleged offence has been put to him so far or placed before the court.
The purpose of ED’s opposition to grant of bail is not to advance the cause of justice but to harm his health which has already suffered severe damage after 75 days of custody since August 21, he has said.
Chidambaram has referred to the Supreme Court’s October 22 order granting him bail in the CBI case and said it has stated there was no evidence of tampering, flight risk and influencing witnesses against him in the corruption case.
Chidambaram is lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody in the ED’s money-laundering case.
On November 1, the high court while disposing of the interim bail plea of Chidambaram, who was suffering from Crohn’s disease, had directed the Tihar Jail superintendent to provide him clean and hygienic surroundings and also mineral water, home cooked food and mosquito protection nets and repellant.
He had sought anticipatory bail in the money laundering case from the high court which dismissed the plea. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court which also refused to grant him relief.
The ED had arrested him in the money laundering case on October 16. He was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case.
The case was registered by the CBI on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a 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 finance minister.
Thereafter, the ED had lodged a money-laundering case in this regard in 2017.