P. Chidambaram, Congress Leader, (Screen-grab Courtesy: NDTV)
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Delhi:

Delhi High Court rejected the bail application of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, in the INX media case on Monday. Chidambaram had been arrested and is in Tihar jail since September 5th. The special team of CBI had extended the judicial custody till October 3rd.

Here is all that you need to know:

The case:

The INX Media case is in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to media group INX Media which enabled them to receive an overseas fund worth Rs 307 crores during the time of UPA government and while Chidambaram was the Finance Minister.
After finding irregularities, in 2008 the Income Tax department had handed over the case to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). In 2010, the ED booked a case against INX Media for violations in the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
The case accuses Chidambaram of giving illegal clearance to INX group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, while he was serving as the Finance minister.

The arrest:

Chidambaram applied for an anticipatory bail in both the cases of Enforcement Directorate and the CBI in 2018. The Delhi high court granted bail in both the cases.

However, in July 2019, as Indrani Mukerjea turns approver, the noose tightened around P Chidambaram.

On August 20, 2019, the HC dismissed his anticipatory bail pleas and also declined his request to stay the order for 3 days which would enable him to appeal him in the Supreme Court.

The next day on August 21st Chidambaram was arrested.

Hearing his plea for anticipatory bail, a bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna said it was not a fit case for anticipatory bail as it could hamper the investigation. Chidambaram had moved the Supreme Court after the plea was rejected by the Delhi High Court on August 20.

In the Court, the Enforcement Directorate said that it required Chidambaram’s custody as money laundering was an offence against “society and nation”. It also informed that they had materials to “show that laundering of money continued after 2009 and even today” in the INX Media case

Meanwhile, the top court allowed Chidambaram to withdraw his plea against a non-bailable warrant and remand orders issued by a special CBI judge in the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI,

Grounds of Chidambaram’s plea for bail

Chidambaram’s bail application questioned the credibility of Indrani who is also a prime accused in the murder of her daughter, Sheena Bora. He also claimed that the CBI had initially named his son Karti in the FIR while his name was not even there in the list of accused.

The Congress leader also made a claim that FIPB approval was given to INX Media in accordance with press note 7 and that neither SEBI nor RBI raised any objection then.

He also dismissed the claim made by CBI that he is a flight risk. “Being a senior lawyer and public representative, he is not a flight risk,” the application said. The bail application also suggested that the action against him is selective and has a political undertone to it as none of the then FIPB officials have been arrested by the CBI till date.

Grounds on which the CBI opposed Chidambaram’s bail

CBI had accused Chidambaram of destroying the logbook of North block which showed Indrani and Peter Mukerjea met him in March 2007. They also claimed that they have a receipt which shows Indrani and Peter booked a cab from Hotel Oberoi to reach the Finance Ministry.

The investigation agency also claimed that they have with them, the statements of witnesses and that of Indrani Mukerjea, who turned an approver in the case.

The key argument that CBI made on High Court that resulted in the rejection of his bail application is that the former finance minister is a flight risk, who, if released can influence witnesses and banks abroad.

During an earlier hearing on September 27, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the High Court that there was a grave case to be made against Chidambaram. Mehta had also requested the court to not take into account the character of Chidambaram in deciding if he should be granted bail.

“He is a flight risk and it would be hazardous if he gets bail,” the lawyer had added. “When the accused is so powerful, his mere presence would intimidate witnesses.”

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