New Delhi: A day after he was remanded to custodial interrogation, there is not much former Union minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram can expect out of the hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday.
While his petition for protection from arrest by the CBI has been rendered meaningless for all practical purposes, the second petition against the Enforcement Directorate is the one his legal team will strive to focus on.
ED is yet to formally arrest Chidambaram in the INX Media Case. Therefore, his second petition, asking the top court to give him pre-arrest bail in the case lodged by ED still has its chief prayer surviving.
However, with the trial court having already applied its mind and allowed the CBI's request for his custodial interrogation on Thursday, it is unlikely that the Supreme Court would want to say anything on Chidambaram's arrest by ED.
Pre-arrest bail for a person who is already in custody of an investigating agency under the order of the trial court is a very tricky issue. The apex court, in similar situations in some other cases, has refrained from interfering after the trial court has already applied its mind and allowed custodial interrogation.
Since the trial court has allowed Chidambaram's custodial remand, it becomes extremely difficult for his legal team to now argue that since he had been on a pre-arrest bail before the Delhi High Court order on August 20, the same should continue.
Between the Delhi High Court's judgment and Chidambaram's petition in the Supreme Court, there stands a trial court order wherein it has been held that allegations against him are serious and hence, a detailed and in-depth investigation is a must.
Chidambaram's petition was filed before the trial court's order. It could not have referred to or challenged the trial court's order on custodial interrogation. So, legally, a lot has changed between his filing the petition in the Supreme Court and it being heard on Friday.
In such situations, the Supreme Court has ordinarily maintained that it cannot preempt a probe and would want to pass orders only after being informed about the progress of the investigation. It may keep the petition pending, awaiting certain outcomes.
On the other hand, Chidambaram's legal team would question the haste in which Chidambaram was arrested on Wednesday night although the petition in the Supreme Court was coming up on Friday.
His lawyers would also want the plea of pre-arrest bail to be converted into plea for regular bail.
But an interference by the Supreme Court and an order in favour of Chidambaram looks very improbable at this stage given the fact that he is already in custody of the CBI under the valid orders of a court of law.