SC defers till Monday Chidambaram plea for protection against arrest

Former Union minister P Chidambaram will be spending the weekend in CBI custody as the Supreme Court today posted the hearing in both INX media cases — by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) — for Monday. The top court, however, granted the Congress leader interim protection from arrest in ED case till the next date of hearing.

The former finance and home minister is in jail after Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected his pre-arrest bail in connection with a money laundering case in INX media case. He was arreted by the CBI after a 90-minute drama and was produced in a special court on Thursday that gave the Central Bureau of Investigation the custody of Chidambaram till August 26.

A bench comprising justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna posted both the matters for hearing on Monday, August 26. The hearing witnessed exchange of words between prosecution counsel and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate and Chidambaram’s party colleagues Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi. Mehta vehemently opposed the order granting protection from arrest to Chidambaram in the money laundering case registered by the ED.

Arguing the case, Chidambaram’s lawyer Kapil Sibal said, “The petition raises the issue of his fundamental right to liberty. High court gave the order after seven months at 3:20 pm on Wednesday and said we could move an application asking for time. At 4 pm the application is rejected.

We come to the SC, request for an early hearing. We are told to move the senior most judge the next day .. we prepare the petition overnight.. a notice is pasted at 12 in the night asking me (Chidambaram) to appear before CBI for two hours.. there is no provision for such a notice.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in his arguments said that there was no question of anticipatory bail as Chidambaram was in custody. “The court here is dealing with an offence against the finance minister who granted FIBP approval to a company called INX media, controlled by Peter and Indrani mukherjea.. CBI has a statement of indrani …that is the predicate offence. ED proceedings on money laundering started after this predicate offence was made out.” Mehta argued.

Stating that Chidambaram has been evasive and not answering questions, Mehta urged the court to examine the evidence adduced so far . ‘The court must satisfy it’s conscience before extending a protective benefit to Chidambaram,” Mehta said arguing against any interim protection to the Congress leader in ED case.

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