INX Media Matter: Supreme Court Grants Interim Protection To P Chidambaram In Enforcement Directorate Case; Lists Matter On Aug. 26
Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram after he was produced in a CBI court in the INX media case, in New Delhi on Thursday. (Source: PTI)

INX Media Matter: Supreme Court Grants Interim Protection To P Chidambaram In Enforcement Directorate Case; Lists Matter On Aug. 26

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The Supreme Court today granted protection from arrest to former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the money laundering case lodged by Enforcement Directorate. The apex court agreed to hear on Aug. 26 the Central Bureau of Investigation and ED’s cases in the INX Media matter.

Chidambaram will however continue to be in the Central Bureau of Investigation’s custody as the apex court did not intervene in the matter for which he has been sent for custodial interrogation of the agency till Monday.

"Having heard the counsels for petitioner and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, we are of the view that the co-accused were granted bail in the ED case. Petitioner shall not be arrested till further hearing of the case. List the petition on Monday (Aug. 26). The respondent (ED) shall file their reply and contentions by Monday," the bench comprising Justice R Banumathi and AS Bopanna said.

After the order was dictated, Mehta tried to hand over sealed cover documents to the court saying that the bench should satisfy its conscience before passing an order granting protection from arrest to Chidambaram.

The bench refused to accept the documents and asked Mehta to submit them on Monday itself saying these are confidential and cannot be kept like this.

Heated Hearing

The hearing witnessed heated exchange of words between prosecution counsel and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Chidambaram's party colleagues Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi.

Mehta vehemently opposed the order granting protection from arrest to Chidambaram in the money laundering case registered by the ED.

Raising serious objections on grant of interim protection, he said that ED had collected evidence to suggest that properties have been bought not only in this country but abroad as well.

Mehta further said that huge money was transferred through shell companies and custodial interrogation of Chidambaram was needed to unravel these transactions.

I am saying with a sense of responsibility that this is a case of money laundering of a monumental magnitude.
Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General

Sibal and Singhvi said they have filed a separate petition challenging the remand order of the special judge granting Chidambaram's custody to CBI.

They said that high court, while cancelling the interim protection and rejecting the anticipatory bail plea, had taken on record the note submitted by the ED which was not even argued.

Sibal said they were not given an opportunity to reply to the ED's note and the judge who pronounce it after after seven months copy pasted the note.

Word by word, comma for comma and full stop for full stop, even adjectives were copied as it is and para wise noting was done. Now if the courts are going to copy paste from the note given by prosecution agencies then how will the people protect themselves.
Kapil Sibal, Counsel For P Chidambaram 

Singhvi said that in the anticipatory bail rejection order, the high court should not have made observations such as, the time has come for the Parliament to suitably amend the law so that white collar criminals don't get anticipatory bail.

The apex court was hearing two separate petitions filed by Chidambaram challenging the Delhi High Court’s Aug. 20 verdict by which his anticipatory bail was dismissed in the cases registered by both the agencies-- CBI and ED.

In the CBI case, a special court on Thursday sent Chidambaram for custodial interrogation after he was arrested on the night of Aug. 21.

Mehta said that Chidambaram cannot be arrested in the ED case till Monday as he is already in the custody of the CBI and a person cannot be arrested simultaneously by two agencies.

The Background

Chidambaram, who was Union home minister and also finance minister during the UPA rule from 2004 to 2014, was arrested on Wednesday night after he failed to get protection from the Supreme Court, which did not list for an urgent hearing his appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict dismissing his anticipatory bail plea on Tuesday.

The CBI had registered an first information report on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.

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