INX Media case: Chidambaram not a flight risk, say his lawyers

P. Chidambaram

P. Chidambaram  

Chidambaram's lawyers say High Court denied him bail on the speculative, hypothetical non-finding

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the Supreme Court, ridiculed on Tuesday the government’s apprehension that the senior Congress leader may abscond on getting bail in the INX Media case. He was not taken into custody from Timbuktu or in the middle of a jungle, but from his Jor Bagh home where he said he had gone after a press conference, he said..

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal too pooh-poohed the government’s claim that Mr. Chidambaram was a “flight risk” if set free. “He is not someone who can get a fake passport and flee from the country. He’s a member of Parliament and a well-known face. A lookout notice is also already in place,” Mr. Sibal said.

Mr. Singhvi said bail was denied by the Delhi High Court to Mr. Chidambaram, a senior member of the Supreme Court Bar with 40 years’ standing, solely on the basis of a “speculative, hypothetical non-finding.”

“Unfair logic”

He argued that the September 30 order of the High Court elaborates that Mr. Chidambaram had no history of influencing witnesses or non-cooperation or flight risk. However, the High Court presumes that it cannot be ruled out that the former Union Minister would influence witnesses in future.

“Using the logic of the judge, then nothing can be ruled out... We cannot rule out that the sky may fall or an earthquake may hit us... How can a bail application be denied on such hypothetical non-findings, on such sheer presumptions?” Mr. Singhvi asked a three-judge Bench led by Justice Banumathi.

Mr. Singhvi said the allegations against Mr. Chidambaram were based on the statements given by a woman accused of the heinous offence of murdering her daughter. Six remand applications by the CBI in the INX Media did not mention any attempt to tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses. “Is this not a desperate after-thought? It is his 55th day in jail,” he said.

The hearing was adjourned to Wednesday.

“Custody not required”

Mr. Chidambaram had moved the Supreme Court on October 3 challenging the Delhi High Court’s decision to refuse him regular bail in the INX Media case. In his petition, Mr. Chidambaram argued that his “continuing incarceration is in the form of punishment, as his custody can neither be taken nor is required for the purpose of investigation.”

The High Court had denied bail to the former Union Minister on the basis of submissions by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, which was also reflected in a‘sealed cover’ report, that two material witnesses in the case were “approached” and told not to disclose information concerning Mr. Chidambaram and his son.

The Single Judge Bench of the High Court had observed that “this Court cannot dispute the fact that the petitioner has been a strong Finance Minister and Home Minister and presently Member of Indian Parliament. He is a respectable member of the Bar Association of the Supreme Court of India. He has a long standing in Bar as a senior advocate. He has deep roots in the Indian Society and may be some connection abroad. But, the fact that he will not influence witnesses directly or indirectly cannot be ruled out in view of the facts. Moreover, the investigation is at an advanced stage. Therefore, this Court is not inclined to grant bail.”

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 9:34:22 PM |

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