Former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s plea for an urgent hearing of his anticipatory bail petition in connection with the corruption and money laundering cases related to the INX Media scandal was turned down by the Supreme Court, today afternoon. This came hours after Chidambaram’s plea was rejected by the Delhi High Court, opening up the possibility of his arrest.
The plea in Supreme Court was moved after senior advocate Kapil Sibal met Chidambaram and discussed with him the situation after the Delhi HC order. Senior advocates Salman Khurshid and Abhishek Manu Singhvi had also joined the deliberations in SC. The plea will now be taken up by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s bench on tomorrow.
Chidambaram faces imminent arrest as the Delhi HC also turned down his plea seeking a stay on the operation of the order for three days. Denying protection from arrest to Chidambaram, Justice Sunil Gaur said that his status as Member of Parliament and member of legal profession doesn’t affect the case.
Chidambaram has been questioned several times in the case in which his son, Karti, has been alleged to have received kickbacks in exchange for him allowing the television company to receive foreign funds to the tune of Rs. 305 crore in 2007.
The HC order said that prima facie, the “petitioner appears to be the kingpin of the entire scam” and has not cooperated with the investigation. “Magnitude and enormity of material produced dis-entitle him from any pre-arrest bail,” the HC said.
The court added that economic offence has to be dealt with iron hands. “Investigating agencies’ hand cannot be tied up in such a massive economic offence.”
Justice Sunil Gaur had earlier reserved the decision on the plea on January 25. During the arguments, both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had opposed Chidambaram’s plea on the ground that his custodial interrogation was required as he was evasive during questioning.
Both the probe agencies had contended that during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister, FIPB clearance was granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore. ED contended that the companies in which money was transferred are directly or indirectly controlled by Chidambaram’s son, Karti, and they have a reason to believe that the FIPB approval was granted to INX Media on his son’s intervention.