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Chidambaram to Seek SC Relief after Anticipatory Bail Plea in INX Media Case Rejected; CBI, ED Visit His Home

A CBI team again visited Chidambaram's house later on Tuesday night and left a notice directing the former minister to present himself within two hours of its receipt for further investigation.


Updated:August 20, 2019, 11:56 PM IST
Chidambaram to Seek SC Relief after Anticipatory Bail Plea in INX Media Case Rejected; CBI, ED Visit His Home
‘Appears to be Kingpin in Case’: Delhi HC while denying Chidambaram anticipatory bail.

New Delhi: Hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant any protection from arrest to former Union finance minister P Chidambaram, a team of officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrived at his posh Jor Bagh residence here to locate him, officials said.

The Congress leader appeared to be in deep legal trouble and faced possible arrest after the High Court refused to grant him anticipatory bail, saying he seems to be the "kingpin" and "key conspirator" in the INX media case of money laundering and he needs to be interrogated in custody for the investigation to be effective.

Holding that the INX media scam was a "classic case of money laundering", the court said the twin facts which have weighed to deny pre-arrest bail to Chidambaram are "gravity" of the offence and "evasive" replies given by him to questions put to him while he was under protective cover extended to him by the court.

Chidambaram, 73, also failed to get any immediate relief from the Supreme Court that was approached shortly after the high court cancelled the interim protection from arrest, paving the way for the CBI and the ED to apprehend him.

The CBI team, which reached Chidambaram’s home hours after the high court verdict, left the premises after confirming he was not present. A team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also arrived later.

The CBI team, which comprised a few officials of the superintendent of police rank, did not make clear if it had gone to his residence to arrest Chidambaram for alleged irregularities in foreign investment clearance to INX media during his tenure as finance minister.

Officials said that the team returned to the CBI headquarters and discussed with senior officers the future course of action.

Later on Tuesday night, the CBI again visited Chidambaram's house and pasted a notice on the gate. Signed by CBI investigating officer and Deputy Superintendent of Police R Parthasarathy, it directed the former minister to present himself within two hours of the receipt of the notice for further investigation in the case. The communication was emailed to Chidambaram as well.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant any protection to Chidambaram from arrest by the CBI and the ED. He failed to get an audience from Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday for an urgent hearing of his appeal in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.

A team of lawyers led by senior advocate and Chidambaram's party colleague Kapil Sibal was told by the registrar (judicial) to mention the petition on Wednesday morning in the apex court.

Sibal said that as CJI Gogoi will be on the Constitution bench that is currently conducting daily hearings in the Ayodhya land dispute case, Chidambaram’s petition will come up for hearing at 10:30 am before the seniormost judge not on the Constitution bench.

The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister. Afterwards, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.

The Congress party questioned the actions of the probe agencies against Chidambaram, asking what was the tearing hurry when the Supreme Court was slated to hear his appeal on Wednesday morning.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said that Chidambaram has sought an appeal in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. "His bail was rejected today but what was the urgency for the ED and the CBI to haunt him tonight?" he asked. “This is not a criminal trial. What is happening today is not good for democracy.”

Party leader Manish Tewari, in a tweet, said, "Unrelenting, insidious and vindictive persecution of P Chidambaram and his family is an insult to the rule of Law as it stands constituted in a democracy."

Chidambaram maintained a stoic silence and kept himself away from the media after the judgment. When the news of this setback reached him, the former finance minister was in the Supreme Court along with a few junior lawyers.

Chidambaram met senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Salman Khurshid, all Congress leaders, in the apex court for deliberating his further course of action.

Chidambaram appears to be kingpin: Delhi HC

Justice Sunil Gaur, who is due to retire on Thursday, said, "Granting bail in cases like the instant one will send a wrong message to the society." The case also involved allegations of corruption.

Chidambaram got a reprieve from arrest after the high court granted interim protection on July 25, 2018 which was extended from time to time.

Holding that Chidambaram's custodial interrogation was required for an effective investigation, the court said "simply because he is a Member of Parliament would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to him". Chidambaram is a Rajya Sabha MP.

Justice Gaur said the court cannot permit the prosecution in this "sensitive case to end up in smoke like it has happened in some other high profile cases."

"Facts of the case prima facie reveal that petitioner (Chidambaram) is the kingpin, that is, the key conspirator in this case. Law enforcing agencies cannot be made ineffective by putting legal obstacles of offences in question," the judge said in his 24-page judgment that set off a flurry of activity by top lawyer-turned politicians from the Congress to pre-empt any coercive action by the investigative agencies.

(With inputs from agencies)

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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