New Delhi, July 25: The Delhi High Court Wednesday granted interim protection to former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case till August 1.
Justice A.K. Pathak directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to take any coercive steps against Chidambaram in the case till August 1, the next date fixed for hearing. The bench has directed Chidambaram not to leave the country without permission. The court directed the former minister to co-operate with the investigation and join the agency whenever required.
The Court was hearing Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea in the case. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are probing how his son Karti Chidambaram managed to get clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
Karti was arrested February 28 by the CBI for allegedly taking money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media in 2007 when his father was the Union Finance Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Later, Karti was granted bail.
Karti’s chartered accountant S. Bhaskararaman was arrested in the case by the ED and he was later granted bail. Chidambaram’s counsel and Senior Advocate Dayan Krishan told the Court that the former minister apprehended arrest following the CBI summons issued to him although ED has not issued any notice to the former minister.
Chidambaram’s advocate told the Court that there is an apprehension of arrest as the CBI, in his case has cleared that it required his custodial interrogation. Citing that the ED has opposed his anticipatory bail plea in another case related to the Aircel-Maxis deal, he said: “It cannot be ruled out that the ED may also summon him or illegally arrest him even without issuing summons.”
ED’s counsel and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the plea and said that the leader’s plea is not maintainable as he must have approached the lower court for bail instead of the high court. ED alleged that Chidambaram’s son Karti was instrumental in the FIPB clearance in the INX media case and a similar modus operandi was used in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
ED counsel told the court that the former minister had applied for bail in a separate case related to the Aircel-Maxis deal in the trial court. But in the INX media case, he is seeking bail in the High Court, the probe agency counsel said. The agency counsel also said that the Congress leader is indulging in forum shopping by approaching different courts.