NEW DELHI: Hours after the Delhi High Court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of former Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday, saying he was prima facie the kingpin of the INX Media scam, a team of CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials made an abortive attempt to arrest him but he was not at home.
Justice Sunil Gaur while vacating the interim protection granted to Chidambaram from arrest, said: “The petitioner has not cooperated with the investigation and offenders must be exposed, no matter what their status is. Facts of the case prima facie reveal that he is the kingpin that is the key conspirator in the case. It cannot be forgotten that the petitioner was the finance minister at the relevant time and he had given FDI clearance to the INX Media Group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore.”
Apprehending arrest after the high court’s order, Chidambaram’s colleagues and senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Salman Khurshid approached the Supreme Court seeking urgent relief, but were asked to mention the case on Wednesday.
Justice Gaur who had reserved the order in January this year and is retiring on August 22 refused to grant any further protection.
In his 24-page order, Justice Gaur said: “Simply because he is a sitting Member of Parliament would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to the petitioner in the sensitive case. Law enforcing agencies cannot be made ineffective by putting legal obstacles of offences in question.”
Economic crimes of such mammoth scale are craftily planned and executed and granting bail in cases like instant one will send a wrong message to the society,” Justice Gaur said.
“It is preposterous to say that the prosecution of the petitioner is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta, as it is a classic case of money laundering,” the court underlined.
During the arguments, both the CBI and the ED had opposed Chidambaram’s plea on the grounds that his custodial interrogation was required as he was evasive during questioning.
The CBI is probing how Chidambaram, who was the finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs was empowered to do so.
In the INX Media case, the CBI registered an FIR on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in FIPB clearance to the group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of `305 crore in 2007. The ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard last year.