NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on the bail plea of former Union Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram in the INX media case and allowed Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file all the investigation reports in a sealed cover to it.
A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi reserved the order after hearing both sides in detail.
ED represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that Chidambaram continues to wield substantial influence on crucial witnesses even from custody and stated that how three witnesses crucial to the case refused to confront him.
“When we issued summons to a witness he wrote us back saying he cannot confront Chidambaram because he is too powerful. Two other witnesses did not even turn up,” Mehta said.
On the point of gravity of the offence, Mehta said, “The gravity of an offence has to been seen from the impact of the offence on the society. We have to consider whether society will lose faith in the establishment or not.”
Terming the offence committed by Chidambaram a pre-mediated one, Mehta told the bench, “Economic offences are always premeditated. It is a class of offence where the accused takes care to ensure that no trail of the offence is left.”
Countering Chidambaram’s Wednesday’s contention that he should be granted bail as he is not some 'Ranga Billa', Mehta said, “He should granted bail because has not committed an offence like Ranga Billa does not hold good.”
Chidambaram is in custody for 100 days now.
Explaining as to why Karti Chidambaram has not been arrested so far, Mehta tells bench, “Karti Chidambaram has not been arrested thus far is on account of the interim protection afforded to him by the Delhi High Court as he had challenged some provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and stay was granted to him. Once that stay is vacated, we will arrest him too.”
On this, senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Chidambaram said, “If the ED can show even a single bank account or produce even one email or phone-call showing my involvement in the INX Media case then don’t grant me bail.”
“He has been kept in jail unfairly for the last 100 days just because he is the father of Karti Chidambaram, a key accused in the case,” Sibal said.
Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case.
The CBI had alleged irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as the Finance Minister.
The apex court has granted the Congress leader in one of the cases filed by the CBI but he stays in jail in a related money-laundering case investigated by the ED.