The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate to former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case, Bar and Bench reported.
The court will take up Chidambaram’s appeal against arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the case only on August 26, when the CBI’s custody will end. Both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are investigating the case.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna posted both the ED and CBI matters for hearing on Monday, PTI reported.
“Having heard the counsels for petitioner and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, we are of the view that the co-accused were granted bail in the ED case,” the bench said. “Petitioner shall not be arrested till further hearing of the case. List the petition on Monday. The respondent (ED) shall file their reply and contentions by Monday.”
Advocates and Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued for Chidambaram, while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the investigating agencies.
Mehta argued that the ED had collected innumerable evidences to prove that Chidambaram bought properties not only in India but abroad as well. He said huge amounts of money were transferred through shell companies and that custodial interrogation of Chidambaram was necessary to unravel these transactions.
“I am saying with a sense of responsibility that this is a case of money laundering of a monumental magnitude,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency.
“CBI has recorded statement of Indrani Mukherjea, which will be tested in the trial, that she and her husband Peter had gone to Chidambaram for FIPB approval and he [Chidambaram] had asked them to take care of his son,” Mehta told the bench.
Reports on Thursday had also claimed that Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea had told the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate last year that when they met P Chidambaram in 2006 in his North Block office, he asked them to meet Karti Chidambaram and help him with his business. Karti Chidambaram has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the INX Media case.
Meanwhile, a special court in Delhi reserved order on the anticipatory bail plea of Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram till September in the Aircel-Maxis case till September 3. It also extended their interim protection till then.
Chidambaram was arrested late on Wednesday, a day after the Delhi High Court rejected his anticipatory bail application. His lawyers had moved the Supreme Court earlier in the day to request urgent listing of a plea for protection from arrest. The court had asked them to wait despite two attempts by the lawyers to mention the plea, and finally, in the evening, agreed to hear the plea on Friday. A special CBI court on Thursday remanded Chidambaram to the agency’s custody till August 26.
The court was initially supposed to hear Chidambaram’s petition seeking relief in the CBI’s case against him but the petition for anticipatory bail did not stand since he had been arrested.
The CBI has alleged that there were irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s Foreign Direct Investment clearance – the government body that approves foreign investment – to INX Media in 2007, when P Chidambaram was the finance minister. The company was then owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, who are in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena Bora.
The CBI said 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 for only Rs 4 crore.
In May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering caseagainst Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and the Mukerjeas.
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