Delhi HC extends stay on trial court proceedings in INX Media case

The high court had on May 18 stayed trial proceedings in the case involving Chidambaram and his son Karti.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram (Photo | PTI)
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Monday extended the stay on trial court proceedings in CBI''s INX Media corruption case in which Congress leader P Chidambaram and his son Karti are accused.

Justice Mukta Gupta, who was hearing CBI's challenge to a trial court order allowing inspection of documents kept in ''Malkhana'' (room keeping case properties) by the accused and their counsel, granted time to counsel for the investigating agency to go through to a Supreme Court decision on the issue.

“Issue has been settled by the Supreme Court. Directions have been given to States to frame laws on deficiencies in criminal trial”, said the judge who posted the matter for hearing on August 27.

“Interim order to continue”, the high court ordered.

The high court had on May 18 stayed trial proceedings in the case involving Chidambaram and his son Karti.

It had also issued notice and sought responses of Chidambaram and others on the CBI's plea.

The CBI has sought to set aside the special judge's March 5, 2021 order to the extent that it directed CBI to allow inspection of documents kept in Malkhana by the respondents/accused/ their counsel.

Besides, the CBI has also sought setting aside the observations in the order which says that the agency is required to file or produce before the court all the documents collected by it during investigation.

The trial court had also said that the accused are entitled to copies of such documents or inspections thereof, irrespective of the fact whether they are being relied upon by the CBI or not.

In its plea before the high court, the CBI had said that this case involved high level of corruption with wide ramifications on society and while the accused have a right to a fair trial, the collective interest of the society could not be impinged.

“A fair trial is not what the accused wants in the name of a fair trial but must soothe the ultimate justice. Although right of fair trial of the respondents/accused was not infringed, since all documents relied upon by petitioner-CBI were provided to the respondents/accused…,” it said.

The agency contended that the very essence of trial is to unearth the truth for which the court cannot assist the accused in search of a plausible defence.

It has alleged that the trial court''s order reflected intrusion into the investigative process of the CBI which is impermissible in law and the special judge lost sight of the fact that further investigation in the present matter is underway and if the accused persons are allowed to inspect documents available at the malkhana, the same would subvert the probe and there is every likelihood that they may tamper with evidence available.

Seeking to set aside the trial court''s order, the agency has said the legitimate aim would suffer irreparably if protection is not given to the documents and record which was permitted to be inspected by the accused.

It has said out of 14 accused, only Karti had made the prayer to inspect Malkhana documents, however, the trial court erroneously allowed all the accused to inspect it and exceeded the judicial powers by giving relief which was not prayed for.

The CBI had registered its case on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram''s tenure as finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED had lodged the money laundering case.

The Chidambarams are already on bail in the case.

Chidambaram was taken into custody on August 21, 2019 when he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in INX Media corruption case.

On October 16, 2019, the ED arrested him in the separate money-laundering case.

Six days later, on October 22, 2019, the apex court had granted him bail in the case lodged by the CBI.

On December 4, 2019, after 105 days of custody, Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the money laundering case lodged by the ED. 

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