ED's Tied Hands, CBI in a Fix: Why Today's SC Verdict is First Win for Chidambaram's Legal Team
Friday's order has also put the CBI under pressure to justify the remand of Chidambaram on the ground of non-cooperation when the Supreme Court has observed that the veteran Congress leader has cooperated.
P Chidambaram is taken to court by CBI officials in the INX Media money laundering case in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
New Delhi: The first relief for beleaguered former Union Minister P Chidambaram came from the Supreme Court, which on Friday protected him from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) till Monday.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna granted reprieve to Chidambaram, rejecting ED's submission that there was no need for an interim order in his favour since he is already in CBI's custody.
The court, in a statement that may have far reaching consequences, further said that Chidambaram was always on anticipatory bail in this case and has also cooperated with the investigators.
"It is not your case that he has not cooperated. He has always come when you called him," Justice Banumathi told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the ED as well CBI in this matter.
The order of interim protection assumes significance since it is the first order from a court in his favour, and also since the Supreme Court has also agreed to hear his fresh petition challenging the trial judge's order granting four days of custody to CBI.
Senior lawyers Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi informed the bench that they have moved a new petition against the trial court's order, permitting CBI to interrogate him in custody.
The bench said it will hear the two petitions against the CBI and the third one against the ED on Monday and till the next day, ED cannot arrest Chidambaram.
Tushar Mehta vehemently resisted such an order, saying there was no need for such an order since Chidambaram was under the CBI's custody and ED was yet to arrest him.
But the bench was of the view that the background facts required to give Chidambaram protection till Monday.
Notably, the CBI's custody is also getting over on Monday which makes the proceedings in the trial court subject to the outcome of the hearing on all these issues in the Supreme Court on the same day.
Friday's order ties the ED's hands in its discretion to arrest him and will also put the CBI under pressure to justify the remand of Chidambaram on the ground of non-cooperation when the Supreme Court has observed that the veteran Congress leader has cooperated.
Trial judge will also henceforth await the orders of the Supreme Court before issuing any order in this matter. And for Chidambaram's legal team, this is the first semblance of victory in a court of law.
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