INX media: SC reserves order on Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea, extends interim protection from ED arrest
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the judgement for September 5, on a petition filed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram challenging the Delhi High Court’s order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea in the INX Media case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The top court also granted Chidambaram interim protection from ED arrest till September 5.
Meanwhile, the apex court posted the matter for September 2, on the petition of Chidambaram challenging the August 22 order of the trial court remanding him to CBI’s custody in the INX Media case.
Earlier in the day, the ED told the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of Chidambaram in the INX media case is required as if his plea for anticipatory bail is given it would affect cases involving Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi, Neerav Modi and Zakir Naik.
Disputing the contention of Chidambaram’s lawyers, the agency also argued that the offence of money laundering is against the society, nation and the economy.
“Money laundering is an offence against society, nation and economy. Economic offences are gravest offences irrespective of quantum of sentence,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the probe agency told a Bench of Justice R Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna.
Countering the arguments of Chidambaram’s advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi that Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) offences with seven years of punishment is not a grave offence because as per the Code of Criminal Procedure grave offences entail death penalty and life, Mehta said money laundering offences are “grave”.
The top court was hearing Chidambaram’s plea against Delhi High Court’s order denying anticipatory bail to him in a case being probed by the ED.
Mehta also objected to the proposition made by Chidambaram’s counsel Kapil Sibal to confront him with evidence before presenting it in the court, saying it is “absurd” and would have “devastating results” and is “preposterous”.
Whether the accused’s reply was evasive or not is decided by investigating agency and not by the court, he added.
He said the ED has been investigating various sensitive and high profile cases under PMLA and if Chidambaram’s plea is accepted it would affect cases against Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi, Neerav Modi, Zakir Naik, Sarada chit fund, terror funding and other cases.
Mehta also contended that if accused at large is confronted with the evidence collected, then the agency will have exposed its evidence and witnesses and it will give a chance to the accused to tamper with evidence and erase the money trail.
In 2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered an FIR alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance was given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union finance minister.
Following the FIR filed by CBI, ED had filed a case of money laundering against him.(ANI)