In more trouble for senior Congress leader P Chidambaram who could be arrested, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram observing that he is the “key conspirator” in the INX Media case.
Shortly after the order delivered by Justice Sunil Gaur, a six-member team of CBI officials went to the Jor Bagh residence of the former Union Minister, apparently to arrest him, but returned as he was said to be not there. A last-ditch attempt to get a stay of the order was made by Chidambaram’s lawyer Dayan Krishnan who sought a stay for three days so that they could appeal against it. The judge said he would consider but later rejected it.
Top lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi rushed to the Supreme Court and appeared before the court of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who told them to move the senior-most judge on Wednesday morning.
“Facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner (P Chidambaram) is the kingpin i.e. the key conspirator in this case,” the Justice Sunil Gaur stated in the order.
He said that the gravity of the offence and evasive replies to the questions prompted the court to deny the pre-arrest bail to the former union finance minister.
The court said that it is preposterous to say prosecution of Chidambaram is baseless, politically motivated and an act of vendetta.
“Simply because Chidambaram is a Member of Parliament, would not justify the grant of pre-arrest bail to him,” the order stated.
“This grant of bail in cases like instant one will send a wrong message to the society, stated the order. “It cannot be forgotten that the petitioner was the Finance Minister at the relevant time and had given FDI clearances to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 Crore,” it read.
Taking note of “huge magnitude of conspiracy angle”, the judge observed that it would be premature to jump to a conclusion that provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) would not imply.
The court said that the law enforcement agencies cannot be made “ineffective” by putting legal obstacles of offences in question.
“It was pertinently observed that the economic crimes of such mammoth scale are craftily planned and executed,” the order said.
The Congress leader will, however, approach the Supreme Court tomorrow seeking a stay of the order and also to challenge it.
In 2007, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered an FIR alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.
Based on the FIR, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case against him.
Chidambaram has denied the charges and said the case against him was political motivated.
Chidambaram’s son Karti has also been named in the two cases. He was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI and was later released on bail. The ED had attached properties belonging to him.
On July 4, a Delhi court had allowed Indrani Mukerjea, the former head of the INX Media, to turn an approver in the CBI case.
The agency had submitted that it has come across evidence in the form of conversations which only Indrani Mukerjea is privy to and will help consolidate the case. (ANI)