The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected former finance minister P Chidambaram's plea for an anticipatory bail in the Enforcement Directorate's investigation against him in the INX Media case, which is also being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The apex court bench, comprising Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna, held that the case was "not fit" for anticipatory bail and said that it would "hamper" the investigation.
Rejecting Chidambaram's plea which challenged the Delhi High Court's verdict denying him anticipatory bail in the case, the court said that economic offences have to be dealt with differently as it affects the economy of the country. The investigating agency has to be given sufficient freedom to conduct a probe into the case, the Supreme Court said.
Anticipatory bail is not a matter of right and refusing the relief is not a violation of Article 21, the court said, also rejecting Chidambaram's application for direction to the ED to produce transcripts of his questioning conducted by the agency on three dates.
In addition, the top court said that the bench has the power to peruse the ED's 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. The apex court, however, said Chidambaram can approach the court concerned for grant of regular bail in the case.
After the setback of the court's verdict in his plea against the ED case, Chidambaram's counsel also withdrew the petition against the non-bailable warrant and remand orders of a Delhi trial court in the CBI's investigation against him. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram, said they have decided to unconditionally withdraw the petition.
The Congress leader's 15-day CBI custody, ordered by the special court in five spells, which started after his arrest on 21 August, comes to an end on Thursday. In accordance with this, he will be produced before the trial court.
The CBI had lodged an FIR on 15 May, 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 20 August, 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 and "simply because he is a Member of Parliament would not justify the granting of pre-arrest bail to him".
Holding that the former Union minister's custodial interrogation was required for an effective investigation, the high court had said, "granting bail in cases like the instant one will send a wrong message to the society".
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2019 13:11:27 IST