INX Media case: SC to pronounce verdict on Chidambaram’s pleas for regular bail today

INX Media case: SC to pronounce verdict on Chidambaram’s pleas for regular bail today

EC News Desk

The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict, today, (Wednesday) over senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s plea seeking bail in the INX Media money laundering case.

He has already spent over 100 days in custody pertaining to the INX Media case. Earlier, a Delhi court extended his judicial custody till December 11. Chidambaram’s counsels did not oppose this as the hearing of his bail plea was already going on in the SC. On November 15, the Delhi High Court denied bail to the senior Congress leader stating that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had made an allegation about several shell companies being owned and controlled by people close to Chidambaram and his family members.

A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi had on November 28 reserved judgement on the appeal filed by Chidambaram who has challenged the November 15 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him bail in the case.

During the arguments, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had claimed in the apex court that the 74-year-old former finance minister continues to wield "substantial influence" on crucial witnesses in the case even from the custody, while he said that the agency cannot "destroy" his career and reputation by making baseless allegations.

Opposing his bail plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, argued that economic offences like money laundering affect the nation's economy but also shake people's faith in democracy if a former accused of money laundering is granted bail.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), had argued that economic offences affect the national economy. The public will lose faith in democracy if a former minister accused of money laundering is granted bail. People will surmise that economic offences, which are a class apart, committed by people in power is viewed with a “permissive eye” by the court. A wrong message will be sent, he said.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, representing the former union finance minister, had countered Mehta's submissions and said there was neither any evidence linking Chidambaram directly or indirectly with the alleged offence nor there was any material to show that he had influenced witnesses or tampered with any evidence.

Chidambaram was first arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case and was granted bail by the top court on October 22.

The ED had arrested him on October 16 in the money laundering case. The CBI registered its case on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a FIPB clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister.