The former finance minister P Chidambaram, who was on Tuesday (October 22) granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX media corruption case, on Wednesday (October 23) moved the Delhi high court seeking bail in the INX Media money laundering case.
He will be in the Enforcement Directorates (ED) custody till October 24.
The 74-year-old was arrested in connection with the graft case on August 21 by the CBI, which chargesheeted him and others, including his son Karti and some bureaucrats, for causing loss to the exchequer by allegedly committing offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The case was registered on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of ₹305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister.
The CBI on October 18 filed its charge sheet naming Chidambaram and several others as accused in the INX media corruption case. The trial court took cognisance of the charge sheet on October 21 and subsequently, on October 22, the apex court granted him regular bail in the matter.
The senior Congress leader has sought bail in the money laundering case, saying the apex court has held that he is neither a “flight risk” nor is there a possibility of “his absconding from the trial”.
He has further contended that one of the conditions imposed on him while being granted anticipatory bail in the Aircel Maxis case was that he cannot leave the country without informing the trial court. He has also contended in his application that both the CBI and ED case arise out of the same financial transaction and therefore, there cannot be separate remand for both.
Another ground he has cited for grant of the relief is that the other accused, including his son Karti Chidambaram, in the INX media corruption and the money laundering cases are out on bail. He has claimed in his application that he “has made no attempt to suborn witnesses, tamper with documentary evidence or in any other manner pollute or obstruct the judicial process”.
The application contends that since all the evidence in the case is documentary and is in the custody of investigating agencies, he cannot tamper with it. The plea further claims that Chidambaram was always available for questioning by the ED and had appeared before the agency and answered all questions on all the four dates he was summoned, the last being February 8. He has further said that no attempt was made by ED to question him, till October 16, while he was lodged in Tihar Jail since September 5.
On October 16, the ED interrogated Chidambaram in Tihar Jail and then formally arrested him “for the specious reason of being evasive” during the questioning, the plea claimed. The application has also contended that Chidambaram’s health condition is “fragile” as he is 74-years-old and suffers from various ailments, including coronary artery disease.
(With inputs from agencies)