The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to hear Congress leader P Chidambaram’s plea seeking a stay on the dismissal of his anticipatory bail plea by the Delhi High Court, PTI reported. The top court said it would hear his plea on Friday. The Delhi High Court had on Tuesday rejected Chidambaram’s bail plea.
Earlier in the day, the Enforcement Directorate had issued a lookout notice for the former Union minister.
Chidambaram’s lawyers had mentioned the plea for listing in the morning in front of a bench led by Justice NV Ramana. The judge asked them to place the matter in front of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for urgent listing.
In the post-lunch sitting, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal again mentioned the plea before the bench. However, the court said some defects in the plea had just been removed and that it “cannot be listed for hearing today itself”.
“Without listing of the petition, we cannot hear the matter,” Justices NV Ramana, M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, opposed the Congress leader’s petition to hear the matter on oral mentioning, saying that he did not have the papers.
Sibal said the investigating agencies had issued a lookout notice for Chidambaram as if he was going to “run away”. He insisted that the court hear the matter, but the bench said it had “already directed the matter to be placed before CJI”. Apart from Sibal, advocates Salman Khurshid, Dayan Krishna and Vivek Tankha will also argue for Chidambaram.
Meanwhile, Gogoi was busy with the hearing of the Ayodhya case as part of a Constitution bench. The lawyers went to Gogoi’s courtroom while he was hearing the case but he reportedly left the courtroom without speaking to them. The plea was later listed for Friday.
Chidambaram’s petition stated that he was a law-abiding citizen and had a reputation to sustain in the society, according to NDTV. “He is a sitting member of the Rajya Sabha,” the plea said. “The antecedents of the petitioner are impeccable. He has never been an accused of any offence. There is no possibility of his fleeing from justice.” It added that custodial interrogation was not warranted.
The plea also said that the Delhi High Court’s observation that he was the “kingpin” or “key conspirator” in the case was “completely baseless and supported by no material whatsoever”, PTI reported.
But the CBI told Justice Ramana’s bench that this was “a monumental magnitude of money laundering case”.
In the morning, the Central Bureau of Investigation visited the Congress leader’s home in New Delhi’s Jor Bagh locality but did not find him there, PTI reported. Teams from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had visited his house on Tuesday evening also. The CBI had put up a notice outside Chidambaram’s house, asking him to appear before the probe team within two hours of the receipt of summons.
In his order rejecting the former minister’s bail application, Justice Sunil Gaur of the Delhi High Court had on Tuesday said it was “preposterous to say the prosecution of Chidambaram is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta”. The judge said it was a “classic case of money laundering” and prima facie facts showed that Chidambaram was the key conspirator in this case.
His son Karti Chidambaram is also an accused in the INX Media case.
In May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea. Karti Chidambaram’s company allegedly received Rs 10 lakh from INX Media for helping the company escape punitive action for taking Rs 305 crore in foreign funding in 2007 despite having clearance from the Foreign Exchange Promotion Board for only Rs 4 crore.
Karti Chidambaram has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the INX Media case. The Delhi High Court in March admitted a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation to take on record additional submissions in connection with P Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail application.
The two are also being investigated in the Aircel-Maxis case.