‘Appears to be Kingpin in Case’: What Delhi HC Said While Denying P Chidambaram Anticipatory Bail
Justice Sunil Gaur said Chidambaram was evasive in replies to probe agencies when he was under protective cover given by the court.
File photo of former finance minister P Chidambaram. (Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined interim protection from arrest to Congress leader and former union minister P Chidambaram in the corruption and money laundering cases related to the INX Media scandal.
Justice Sunil Gaur, denying relief to Chidambaram, said “facts of the case prima facie reveal that” he is the “kingpin that is the key conspirator in the case”, and he was evasive in replies to probe agencies when he was under protective cover given by the court.
The court further said the "magnitude and enormity" of material produced by the investigating agencies "dis-entitles him from any pre-arrest bail".
"This is an economic offence and has to be dealt with iron hands... The hands of investigating agencies cannot be tied up in such a massive economic offence," the court added. The judge also said he petitioner has been "evasive in his replies and has not cooperated with the investigations".
During the arguments, both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had opposed Chidambaram's plea on the ground that his custodial interrogation was required as he was evasive during questioning.
Agreeing with the agencies, the judge who is set to retire on August 23 said it was a classic case of money laundering and granting bail in such case will send wrong message to the society.
Both the probe agencies had contended that during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister, FIPB clearance was granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007.
ED contended that the companies in which money was transferred are directly or indirectly controlled by Chidambaram's son, Karti, and they have a reason to believe that the FIPB approval was granted to INX Media on his son's intervention.
The high court had on July 25, 2018 granted interim protection from arrest to Chidambaram in both the cases and it was extended from time to time. The senior Congress leader's role had come under the scanner of various investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.
It was during his tenure as finance minister in the UPA-I government that clearances from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) were given to the two ventures.
In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, the ED in 2018 lodged the money laundering case in this regard.
Chidambaram's petition had said that though no summons had ever been served on him by the ED in this case, he had an apprehension of arrest in view of the summons issued to him by the CBI.
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