The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on former Union minister P Chidambaram’s bail plea in connection with the Enforcement Directorate’s charges filed in the INX Media case, Bar and Bench reported. The top court instructed the registry to accept the investigation reports in a sealed cover from the agency.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Enforcement Directorate, told the court that the economic offences allegedly committed by Chidambaram were grave in nature as they not only affected the economy, but also people’s faith in the system. Mehta said that the agency had identified 12 bank accounts to which the proceeds of the crime were deposited, and the Enforcement Directorate also found properties that were purchased in several other nations.
“The question is whether as an institution, we want to send a message to the public at large, whether we see economic offences with a permissive eye,” Mehta said. The lawyer added that the agency will move to arrest the Congress leader’s son Karti Chidambaram when his interim protection is over.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, said that he agreed with Mehta on the gravity of economic offences. However, he asked how the former Union minister was involved in the case when “beneficiaries [are] being traced” to Chidambaram’s family members. “I [Chidambaram] have not been charged with conspiracy by the CBI,” Sibal said, according to Live Law. “One account, one property, one communication...show me one piece of evidence that links him [Chidambaram] directly.”
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had adjourned the bail proceedings as the agency was asked to make submissions in the case. Later in the day, a special court in Delhi extended the Congress leader’s judicial custody till December 11.
On November 15, the Delhi High Court had denied Chidambaram bail, saying the allegations were serious in nature and that he had “played an active role” in them. However, the court noted that its observations were not final in nature. The former finance minister moved the top court three days later.
In October, the Supreme Court had granted the former minister bail in connection with the inquiries being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation, dismissing its contention that he was a flight risk. The agency has filed a review petition in the top court.
The INX Media case
The Enforcement Directorate filed the money laundering case against P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, INX Media, and the company’s owners Indrani and Peter Mukerjea in May 2017.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has claimed 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”.