The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP P Chidambaram in the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) INX Media case. Thus, Chidambaram was granted relief more than 100 days after his initial arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The SC set aside the Delhi High Court order of November 15 that had dismissed the senior Congress leader’s bail plea. However, the apex court has listed some conditions to be followed by Chidambaram when he is out on bail.
First, Chidambaram has been asked to deposit a bail bond of Rs. 2,00,000 to be released. Moreover, he cannot leave the country without the permission of the court. He has not only been asked to make himself available for investigation whenever required but also has been directed not to tamper with evidence or influence witnesses. Another significant restriction imposed by the SC is that the senior Congress leader cannot give any interviews or public statements regarding the INX Media case.
ii) The appellant is ordered to be released on bail if he is not required in any other case, subject to executing bail bond of Rs.2 lakhs with two sureties of the like amount to be produced to the satisfaction of the learned Special Judge;
iii) The passport ordered to be deposited by this Court in the CBI case shall remain in deposit and the appellant shall not leave the country without specific orders to be passed by the learned Special Judge.
iv) The appellant shall make himself available for interrogation in the course of further investigation as and when required by the respondent.
v) The appellant shall not tamper with the evidence or attempt to intimidate or influence the witnesses;
vi) The appellant shall not give any press interviews nor make any public statement in connection with the case qua him or other coaccused.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media for foreign funds of Rs.305 crore during Congress leader P Chidambaram’s tenure as Finance Minister. According to the CBI, the Mukerjea couple, who were the owners and founders of INX Media had swung a deal in their favour to secure the FIPB clearance. Indrani turned approver in the case and gave a confessional statement to a magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Indrani Mukerjea has alleged that money had exchanged hands, benefiting one of Karti Chidambaram’s companies in lieu of the FIPB approval. The ED too lodged a money laundering case in this regard.