In a setback for former Union finance minister P Chidambaram, the Supreme Court today refused him anticipatory bail in the INX Media case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.
The Apex court turned down his request for protection against arrest by the federal investigating agency mandated to probe money laundering, ruling that the ED was right to argue that his custodial interrogation was necessary.
A two-judge bench led by Justice R Banumathi also rejected the contention of Chidambaram’s legal team that the court should not be given information in sealed cover. The judges observed that anticipatory bail at an initial stage could “frustrate the investigation”.
The top court said that Chidambaram would not be shown all materials collected by ED at this stage and neither does the agency need to produce the transcripts of the senior Congress leader’s questioning in court.
“This is not a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail. Investigating agency has to be given enough freedom to probe. Grant of anticipatory bail at this stage will hamper the investigation. Accused may move regular bail before the appropriate court,” the court added. “Economic offences stand at different footing and it has to be dealt with different approach,” the court said.
CBI had lodged an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in FIPB clearance granted to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, ED lodged a money laundering case in 2017. The Delhi High Court had on August 20, rejected anticipatory bail pleas of Chidambaram in the INX media scam cases lodged by CBI and ED