The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed caveats in the Supreme Court over Congress leader P Chidambaram plea seeking protection from arrest in the INX media case.
With the caveat being filed, the apex court cannot pass any order on the former finance minister’s plea without hearing the probe agencies.
Earlier today, P Chidambaram was unable to get immediate relief after a three-judge bench of the top court sent the file of Chidambaram’s Special Leave Petition (SLP) seeking pre-arrest bail to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for passing an order on the listing of the case.
CJI Gogoi, however, had commenced hearing in the Ayodhya dispute case due to which Chidambaram’s counsel Sibal was unable to mention the matter before him for urgent hearing.
The Congress leader’s lawyers had moved the apex court against Tuesday’s Delhi High Court order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea regarding cases filed by the CBI and the ED related to the alleged INX Media scam.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the plea of P Chidambaram and said this is a case of money laundering of monumental magnitude.
ED had also issued a lookout notice against P Chidambaram on Tuesday evening shortly after teams of the probe agency went to the former finance minister’s residence but were unable to find him.
The Delhi High Court had, in its order, said that this grant of bail in cases like instant one will send a wrong message to the society.
“It cannot be forgotten that the petitioner was the FM at the relevant time and he had given FDI clearances to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore. Facts of the case prima facie reveal that petitioner is the kingpin, i.e., the key conspirator in this case. Law enforcing agencies cannot be made ineffective by putting legal obstacles of offences in question,” the order read.
However, Chidambaram, in his petition, said that he granted approval to INX Media’s proposal in the “normal course of official business”.
“In May 2007, a bunch of proposals, including the INX Media case, was placed before the Finance Minister. He granted approval in the normal course of official business,” read the petition.
The Congress leader said that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which was constituted in order to promote foreign investment in the country, unanimously approved the proposal of INX Media for approval for FDI.
In 2007, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered an FIR alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.
Based on the FIR, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case against him.
Chidambaram’s son Karti has also been named in the two cases. He was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI and was later released on bail. The
ED had attached properties belonging to him.
On July 4, a Delhi court had allowed Indrani Mukerjee, the former head of the INX Media, to turn an approver in the CBI case.
The agency had submitted that it has come across evidence in the form of conversations which only Indrani Mukerjea is privy to and will help consolidate the case.