The Supreme Court today – Thursday, Oct 3 – told Congress leader and former union minister for finance and defence P Chidambaram that Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi would decide on the hearing of his petition for bail in the INX Media case filed by CBI.
This came when Chidambaram, who has been lodged in Tihar Jail since Sep 5, moved the apex court today after the Delhi Court on Monday, Sep 30, rejected his bail plea saying Chidambaram might influence witnesses in the case.
Chidambaram’s plea for bail was mentioned by his counsel Kapil Sibal before the bench of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari. Sibal asked the bench to see if the court could hold the hearing before the week-long Dussehra break that begins Monday, Oct 7.
However, the judges sent the matter to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to take a call on listing of the matter.
Chidambaram has been in custody for about a month and a half. He was arrested by CBI on August 21 after his anticipatory bail plea in the case was rejected by the High Court and the appeal against the same was pending before the Supreme Court. The anticipatory bail plea in the CBI case was later dismissed by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it had been rendered infructuous.
The CBI kept him in its custody for questioning for 15 days, the maximum prescribed by law. After this, he was remanded to judicial custody. His plea for regular bail was rejected by the Special CBI Judge sitting at the Rouse Avenue Court Complex in Delhi. Later, bail was denied by the Delhi High Court as well. The Judicial remand of the former Union Minister is scheduled to end on October 3.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which had been trying hard to get him for custodial interrogation, laid back after Chidambaram was jailed, saying they decide later when to ask for his custody.
Chidambaram’s lawyers allege that the Enforcement Directorate was waiting for the veteran Congress leader to be released on bail before coming down to arrest him again and then, send him to Tihar jail for the second time.
While the CBI is investigating corruption allegations against the Congress leader, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is inquiring into money laundering allegations in the case.
On September 19, a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Delhi extended his judicial custody till October 3.
The case against Chidambaram
The CBI had registered a case on May 15, 2017, alleging alleged irregularities in the grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media co-founded by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea to receive overseas investment to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.
Peter and Indrani Mukerjea have been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with P Chidambaram’s son Karti, to secure clearance from FIPB. Indrani, however, turned approver against Chidambaram and told the CBI that a deal of $1 million had been struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure the approvals. P Chidambaram and son Karti have denied that they ever met Indrani Mukherjea.