In a big breaking on Wednesday, former Union Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram has been granted bail, 106 days after being arrested in the INX Media Case. Pronouncing the verdict, the Supreme Court said that even if there is an allegation of grave offences, bail cannot be denied. This comes as a major relief to the Congress leader as he has been interrogated for 45 days in the judicial custody. The Supreme Court also said that Chidambaram will have to pay a bail amount of Rs 2 Lakh.
In its verdict, the top court said that contentions recorded by the HC needs to be considered at the time of trial in the case. It said that despite ruling in favour of Chidambaram in the triple test, it did not grant him bail. However, the apex court said that bail decision should be taken on a case to case basis. The Supreme Court barred Chidambaram from interacting with media or to make public statements in connection with this case. It also said that he should not temper with the evidence and not influence the witnesses.
After 27 hours of being untracable, when Congress leader P Chidambaram arrived at the AICC head office for a press conference, and within minutes returned to his Jor Bagh residence, the CBI followed him and arrested him on August 21. In unprecedented visuals, the CBI team climbed the walls of Chidambaram's residence to enter his place. The CBI officials after almost 30-minutes long drama arrested him for custodial interrogation in the money laundering and corruption cases.
After the Delhi High Court rejected the bail plea of Chidambaram in the INX media case in August this year, he went missing. He had approached the court with an anticipatory bail plea in the corruption and money laundering case against him. During arguments in the court, both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had opposed his plea on the ground that his custodial interrogation was required as he was evasive during questioning. While denying bail, Justice Sunil Gaur, said “facts of the case prima facie reveal that” he is the “kingpin that is the key conspirator in the case”, and he was evasive in replies to probe agencies when he was under protective cover given by the court.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (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.