The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued hearing former Union minister P Chidambaram’s plea against the Delhi High Court’s refusal to grant him bail in the INX Media money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate. The top court extended his interim protection from arrest in the case till Thursday, when the hearing will continue, PTI reported.
The senior Congress leader, however, will remain in the Central Bureau of Investigation’s custody till at least Friday.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that Chidambaram was trying to “play the victim card” and prevent the Enforcement Directorate from exercising its right to arrest him. “This is not a witch hunt as alleged by them,” Mehta said. “We have material to show that it is a serious case of money laundering. We have collected cogent materials in the case.”
“A ghost is sought to be created by playing the victim card,” Mehta told the bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna.
The ED also argued that the case is a serious one, and it has collected “cogent material” warranting custodial interrogation.
Both the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate are conducting inquiries in the INX Media case. On August 20, the Delhi High Court had rejected Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea in both cases, after which he moved the Supreme Court. However, by the time the court heard his pleas on Monday, the CBI had already arrested Chidambaram and the petition in the CBI case was infructuous. Since then, the top court has been hearing his plea in connection with the case filed by the ED.
In the hearing on Tuesday, Chidambaram’s counsels had urged the court to direct the Enforcement Directorate to produce transcripts of his interrogation in the case.
The CBI has said there were irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s foreign direct investment clearance to INX Media in 2007, when P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister. The company was then owned by businesspersons Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, who are in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena Bora.
According to the CBI, the company of P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram allegedly received Rs 10 lakh from INX Media for helping it 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 case against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and the Mukerjeas. Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea have reportedly told the investigating agencies 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.
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