The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s plea for anticipatory bail in the INX Media case registered by the Enforcement Directorate, PTI reported. The court had reserved its verdict on August 29.

A bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna said it was not a fit case for anticipatory bail as it could hamper the investigation. Chidambaram had moved the Supreme Court after the plea was rejected by the Delhi High Court on August 20.

The senior Congress leader is presently in the Central Bureau of Investigation’s custody. Both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are conducting inquiries in the INX Media case.

During the proceedings, the Enforcement Directorate had told the court that it required Chidambaram’s custody as money laundering was an offence against “society and nation”. The agency had said it had material to “show that laundering of money continued after 2009 and even today” in the INX Media case. It had said it wanted to interrogate Chidambaram in custody and without the “protective umbrella” of anticipatory bail.

Meanwhile, the top court allowed Chidambaram to withdraw his plea against a non-bailable warrant and remand orders issued by a special CBI judge in the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI, PTI reported. On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said CBI did not want Chidambaram’s custody anymore.

On August 20, the Delhi High Court had rejected Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea in both the CBI and ED cases, after which he moved the Supreme Court. However, by the time the court heard his pleas, the CBI had already arrested Chidambaram and the petition in the CBI case was infructuous. The top court heard his plea in connection with the case filed by the ED.

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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