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Chidambaram will continue in CBI custody till Sept. 5, says SC

Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram after being produced at Rouse Avenue Court in connection with INX media case, in New Delhi on September 2, 2019.

Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram after being produced at Rouse Avenue Court in connection with INX media case, in New Delhi on September 2, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court on September 3 directed status quo, ordering that former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram will continue in CBI custody till September 5 in the INX Media case.

A Bench led by Justice R. Banumathi was assured by Mr. Chidambaram's lawyer, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, that they would not press for interim bail at a hearing scheduled later in the afternoon before the trial court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, at the very commencement of the hearing, informed the Bench that the 15-day remand would continue till September 5.

At this, Justice Banumathi said the court was not inclined to hear the plea filed by Mr. Chidambaram challenging his arrest and remand to CBI custody at length on Wednesday. Instead, the judge said, the plea could be heard on September 5.

The court order on a separate petition filed by Mr. Chidambaram for protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also scheduled to be pronounced on September 5. The challenge against the arrest and remand in the CBI case would be heard after the order is pronounced in the ED case.

Also read | INX Media case: SC modifies order on intervention of Solicitor-General

Mr. Mehta complained to the apex court of how Mr. Chidambaram's lawyers literally pressured the trial judge, in a September 2 hearing, to decide his bail application the same day.

“You cannot strangulate the judge's calendar like this,” Mr. Mehta objected to the court. He said the “bail application was moved yesterday, 14 days after the arrest, and they want the bail to be decided the same day. I request the court to allow law take its own course.”

In his plea, Mr. Chidambaram said the trial court passed the order of his arrest without application of mind and without considering that the Supreme Court was seized of the matter.

In a six-page affidavit, the CBI said the apex court cannot entertain such appeals against a remand ordered by the CBI judge after exercising “sound judicial discretion in the interest of the investigation”. Hearing Mr. Chidambaram's plea against his remand would set a “very bad precedent”.

There is no extraordinary or grave circumstances which justify the petitioner to bypass statutory remedies to come straight to the Supreme Court, the CBI submitted.

Also read | INX Media case: ‘A stupid man cannot launder,’ Enforcement Directorate tells Supreme Court

In his plea, Mr. Chidambaram said the “conduct of the respondent [CBI] is not only deplorable but, in fact, the action of the respondent clearly shows that the whole action was planned to overreach the authority and majesty of this court, in which the special judge was misled and made to pass the impugned orders”.

He said “the detention/arrest of the petitioner and the subsequent remand of the petitioner to custody of respondent agency are a direct sequitur of the judgment dated August 20, 2019...rejecting the petitioner’s application for anticipatory bail and making certain observations on the merits of the case itself”. His liberty was “illegally curtailed“.

The plea said,“It is the case of the petitioner that the detention/arrest of the petitioner in pursuance of a non-bailable warrant issued on August 21, 2019 and his subsequent remand by the order dated August 22, 2019 are totally without jurisdiction and authority of law.” 

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 10:57:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/inx-media-case-chidambaram-to-continue-in-cbi-custody-till-sept-5-says-sc/article29322753.ece

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