NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended till Wednesday the protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, granted to former finance minister P Chidambaram.
During the hearing on Tuesday, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the bench that provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cannot be applied retrospectively against Chidambaram. The offences with which he has been charged were included in the Act only in June 2009 whereas the alleged offence dates back to May 2007, Singhvi argued. “You (the prosecution) are trying to paint a person as a kingpin when it was not even an offence,” Singhvi told a bench headed by Justice R Banumathi.
Chidambaram has also filed a fresh application in the court seeking transcript of ED’s questioning session with him which, his counsels claimed, was evidence that he was not being evasive.
On this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta interjected and said, “The ED wants his custodial interrogation and not confession. So we don’t need to go to Magna Carta to argue this case.”
Singhvi responded by saying the former finance minister was not being evasive; he had fully co-operated in the probe and had answered all the questions put to him. Singhvi said 12 questions were put to Chidambaram and though six of them were repetitive, he answered all of them and never said “to hell with you and I would not answer your questions”. Chidambaram, he added, was “not obliged to give the answers that the agencies want to hear”.
Mehta said he would respond to Chidambaram’s plea seeking production of transcripts of his questioning on December 19 last year and January 1 and January 21 this year during his arguments Wednesday.
Singhvi said the ED’s only purpose was to humiliate the former minister. On the allegations of tampering with evidence, the counsel said, “Chidambaram was in power since 2014. If he wanted to, he would have tempered then.”
During the arguments, Sibal said ED cannot place documents in the court randomly and “behind the back” for seeking Chidambaram’s custody. The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on Wednesday.