The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s plea after the Delhi High Court rejected his bail application in the INX Media case, Bar and Bench reported. The High Court had dismissed the bail plea on Friday, saying the charges against him were serious and that he “played an active role”.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Congress leader, had flagged the case for urgent hearing before a bench led by newly-appointed Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and comprising Justices Surya Kant and BR Gavai.
However, the court said the matter will be taken up “tomorrow or day after”.
The Congress leader’s counsel informed the court that he had been lodged in prison for the last 90 days and bail was denied to him by the High Court. “We will see,” the bench said in response, according to PTI.
In its observations, the High Court had said that “a wrong message would be sent to the society, if bail is granted in this case”.
The 74-year-old leader, who was first arrested on August 21 by the Central Bureau of Investigation, has been in the Enforcement Directorate’s custody since October 17. He has been in Tihar Jail since September 5.
In October, the Supreme Court granted the former minister bail in connection with the inquiries being conducted by the CBI, dismissing its contention that he was a flight risk. The agency has filed a review petition in the top court.
There were no errors, clarifies High Court judge
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court clarified that it did not “cut and paste” observations from a Supreme Court judgement in the order denying Chidambaram bail, PTI reported. Some news articles had claimed that Justice Suresh Kumar Kait had reproduced some paragraphs from a 2017 ruling of the top court denying bail to a Delhi-based lawyer in a money laundering case.
The judge said the observations from the Rohit Tandon vs Enforcement Directorate case were for reference. His clarification came after the Enforcement Directorate urged it to rectify some “inadvertent” errors in the Chidambaram order.
The INX Media case
The Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case in May 2017 against P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, INX Media, and the company’s owners Indrani and Peter Mukerjea.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is also looking into the case, has alleged that there were irregularities in the foreign direct investment clearance granted to INX Media by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board in 2007. Chidambaram was the finance minister at the time. The agency has submitted purported emails between INX Media and a company belonging to Karti Chidambaram, claiming that these emails will “prove offences committed”.