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No Interim Relief for Chidambaram as Supreme Court Lists His Anticipatory Bail Plea for Friday

The ED has also issued a fresh lookout circular against him in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.


Updated:August 21, 2019, 8:58 PM IST
No Interim Relief for Chidambaram as Supreme Court Lists His Anticipatory Bail Plea for Friday
File photo of former finance minister P Chidambaram.

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, who is facing threat of arrest, failed on Wednesday to get protection from the Supreme Court which decided to hear on Friday his petition seeking stay of the Delhi High Court order that had dismissed his anticipatory bail plea.

Registrar (Judicial) informed Chidambaram's lawyers that Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has listed the matter for hearing on Friday.

Soon after getting the message from Registrar (Judicial), a team of lawyers led by senior advocate Kapil Sibal had short deliberation in the consultation room after which they left the apex court.

Chidambaram, who was home minister and finance minister in the UPA government from 2004-2014, had sought a stay on the Delhi High Court's Tuesday judgement dismissing his anticipatory bail plea, paving the way for his arrest in cases related to the INX Media scam. The cases have been lodged by the CBI and the ED.

A big commotion was seen in the top court from 10:30 am to 5 pm as three attempts were made by his lawyers seeking urgent hearing on Wednesday itself, but the CJI decided that the case will be heard on Friday.

Chidambaram, who is yet to be traced by the probe agencies and was last seen in public on Tuesday 5 pm in the apex court corridors, has to evade arrest for two more days before his plea is heard. As per the apex court rules, the composition of the bench which will hear his case will be known on Thursday evening.

His petition was first mentioned by Sibal in the morning before a bench, comprising Justices N V Ramana, M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi, which sent it for being placed before the CJI for his consideration to accord it urgent hearing.

When the team of lawyers representing Chidambaram did not receive any information on urgent listing, Sibal once again mentioned it before the same bench after it assembled post lunch.

Sibal, flanked by other senior advocates Salman Khurshid, Vivek Tankha and Indira Jaising, told the bench that the investigating agencies have issued a look out notice against Chidambaram as if he is going to "run away".

The top court said the defects in the petition had been removed "just now" and it "cannot be listed for hearing today itself".

"Without listing of the petition, we cannot hear the matter," said the bench. "Sorry Mr Sibal. We cannot hear the matter," the bench said when he repeatedly asked for hearing the matter on Wednesday itself.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the plea of Chidambaram for hearing the matter on oral mentioning saying that the papers are not with him.

The CBI on Wednesday also issued a Look Out Circular against former Union finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX media case to prevent him from leaving the country as the agency continued its efforts to locate him, officials said.

The probe agency is understood to have alerted all airports and other ports of entry to prevent Chidambaram from leaving, sources said. However, they did not clarify whether the circular asks the authorities concerned to detain the former finance minister or merely stop him and intimate the CBI.

The officials said the agency is continuing its efforts to locate Chidambaram as he has not presented himself before the CBI team investigating the case. CBI teams have initiated surveillance and visited a number of places looking for him, sources said.

The agency had been seeking Chidambaram's "custodial interrogation" in the case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the grant of foreign investment clearances to INX media when he was the finance minister. They said Chidambaram was summoned last year for questioning in the case but he remained evasive in his responses.

The agency officials returned after pasting a notice at his residence on Tuesday night asking him to be present before the investigation officer of the case within two hours. Chidambaram did not appear before them. Officials have not ruled out the possibility of issuing fresh summons or arrest.

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