In a massive victory for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday has said to the Rouse Avenue Court that he has filed an application stating that he is ready to surrender before the ED in connection with the INX Media case. Sources report that the former Finance Minister's surrendering is allegedly an attempt to avoid going to Tihar Jail. Meanwhile, the CBI has moved a plea seeking judicial custody of Chidambaram, which would mean he would have to go to Tihar Jail. Sources say ED has not made any move to arrest Chidambaram. It is plausible that ED too may press for judicial custody, as per sources.
INX media case: P Chidambaram's lawyer Kapil Sibal says in Court, "As far as CBI is concerned why should I (P Chidambaram) be sent to judicial custody? They've asked all questions. I'm willing to go to ED’s custody. I should not be sent to judicial custody."— ANI (@ANI) September 5, 2019
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court refused to grant him pre-arrest bail in the INX Media money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate. The top court dismissed Chidambaram's plea challenging the Delhi High Court verdict denying him anticipatory bail in the case, saying the economic offence has to be dealt with differently as it affects the economy of the country. A bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said it is not a fit case to grant anticipatory bail. The apex court also stated that the ED is free to arrest the Congress leader in connection with the INX Media case, as his CBI custody ends on Thursday.
SC states probing agency's freedom to investigate
The Congress leader's 15-day CBI custody, ordered by the special court in five spells, which started after his arrest on August 21 night, comes to an end today and he will be produced before the trial court. The investigating agency has to be given sufficient freedom to conduct a probe into the case, the apex court said. It also rejected Chidambaram's application for direction to the ED to produce transcripts of his questioning conducted by the agency on three dates. The top court said it has the power to peruse case diary even before the commencement of trial and added that it has refrained from perusing documents placed before it by ED in a sealed cover as it may prejudice other accused. SC stated that Chidambaram can approach the court concerned for grant of regular bail in the case.
The 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, the 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 the CBI and ED. The high court held that he was "prima facie the kingpin" in the INX Media corruption and money laundering cases. He was arrested by the CBI from his Delhi residence on August 21, 2019, and has been in CBI custody since then.