New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to Karti Chidambaram's chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman in the CBI's INX Media case, and directed him to cooperate in the investigation.
Special Judge Sunil Rana granted the relief to Bhaskararaman, noting that the main accused, Karti Chidambaram, had already been granted bail by the Delhi High Court in the case on 23 March.
"Applicant (Bhaskararaman) was earlier granted bail in the case of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on 13 March subject to certain terms and conditions and in compliance with one of the conditions, he had already surrendered his passport with the Enforcement Directorate.
"In these circumstances, it can be said that there is no apprehension that the applicant is at a flight risk and there is no material to suggest that applicant will tamper with the evidence, as he had already handed over the documents to the CBI which were in his possession and knowledge," the court said. It further said that for the purpose of interrogating the applicant, it is not necessary to keep him in the custody and he can be called as and when required.
"Personal liberty is of precious value as per our Constitution and a person should be presumed to be innocent till he is proved guilty after facing trial. The object of bail is to secure the attendance of accused in the trial and bail cannot be withheld as a punishment.
"It is not the case of CBI that applicant had tampered with evidence during the aforesaid period or has influenced or threatened any witness in the past. Hence, to my mind the apprehension of CBI is that accused may influence witness or tamper with evidence, appears to be ill-founded," it said.
The judge further said, "Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and discussion made above I am of the view that where there are reasonable grounds that petitioner is not likely to abscond or otherwise misuse his liberty while on bail, there seems to be no justification to require him first to submit to custody, remain in prison for some days and then apply for bail."
In his application moved through advocates Giriraj Subramanium and Vikash Pathak, the accused had said he had already given the documents to the probe agency and was confronted with Karti Chidambaram, who was recently granted bail in the case registered by the CBI.
The CBI had opposed the application alleging that Bhaskararaman was non-cooperative and evasive in his replies and even gave wrong answers. The agency had said its power to arrest the accused if and when required should not be curtailed as the investigation was at a crucial stage and he might tamper with the evidence.
Bhaskararaman, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on 16 February from a five-star hotel here, was on 13 March granted bail in the money laundering case by the court which said there was no specific allegation against him except that he aided former Union minister P Chidambaram's son in committing the crime.
Karti Chidambaram's name had cropped up in the case relating to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board's (FIPB) approval granted in 2007 for receipt of funds by INX Media when his father was the finance minister during the erstwhile UPA regime.
The Enforcement Directorate had earlier told the court that during the course of the investigation, it was revealed that Bhaskararaman had been assisting Karti Chidambaram to manage his "ill-gotten wealth" in India and abroad.
It had alleged that INX Media had deliberately and in violation of the conditions of approval made a downstream investment of 26 percent in the capital of INX News Pvt Ltd. without the specific approval of FIPB, which included indirect foreign investment by some foreign investors, and generated Rs 305 crore foreign direct investment in INX Media Pvt. Ltd. against the approved foreign inflow of Rs 4.62 crore.
Updated Date: Apr 04, 2018 21:07:10 IST