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Supreme Court reserves verdict on Chidambaram’s bail plea in INX Media case

Former Union Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram.

Former Union Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Former Union Finance Minister says not one shred of proof against him

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on a plea for regular bail filed by former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in a case of money laundering levelled against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the INX Media case.

Urging a three-judge Bench led by Justice R. Banumathi against bail, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for ED, argued economic offences affected the national economy. The public would lose faith in democracy if a former Minister accused of money laundering was granted bail. People would surmise that economic offences, which were a class apart, committed by persons who occupied high offices was viewed with a “permissive eye” by the court. A wrong message would be sent.

Mr. Chidambaram had moved the appeal against the Delhi High Court’s decision to deny him bail on November 15.

 

“Do we show that we view economic offences with a permissive eye? The High Court says ‘no’. He was not an unknowing bystander... We have sent letters rogatory to various banks... We are waiting. Material collection has been complex in this case, but we still have a strong case ... Involves money laundering, creation of shell companies, directly referrable to the petitioner,” Mr. Mehta argued.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr. Chidambaram, rebutted that all the ED had done till now was make empty allegations against Mr. Chidambaram in court. They had not shown a shred evidence to back their claim that he was involved.

Mr. Sibal said what Mr. Mehta said about the devastating effects of economic offences to the nation was very true, but the latter had still not been able to prove how that was relevant in this case where there was no proof of any crime committed by the senior Congress leader.

“Show one property, one bank account, one telephone call, one recovery from his premises involving him in this case... Can they show one evidence to prove his involvement? Throughout their (ED) affidavit, have they shown one fact associating him.. All they have on him are allegations without proof, now how do I [Chidambaram] counter that in court?” Mr. Sibal contended.

Mr. Sibal said the ED had even tried to apply the court’s observations in the Madhumita Shukla murder case (in which former Minister Amarmani Tripathi was accused) to deny bail to Mr. Chidambaram.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, also for Mr. Chidambaram, said the ED was merely trying use oral arguments to prejudice the Supreme Court against the Congress leader.

Mr. Sibal said even ED was not clear about what it had got in the case. “They did mention some mails, bank transactions suggesting money laundering. Now what do just they mean by ‘suggesting’ money laundering?” Mr. Sibal asked the court

“How did I [Chidambaram] create the shell company (Advantage Strategic Consulting), who did I meet, who did I call... What is there to show my involvement... Show one piece of evidence. You cannot destroy reputations, a man’s career like this. Show one piece of evidence from 2007 to 2019,” Mr. Sibal challenged the ED.

Mr. Sibal said the question of personal liberty could not be at the mercy of any “cloak-and-dagger stuff where they hide everything and keep me in jail”.

The INX Media case concerns the grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in 2007-08 during Mr. Chidambaram’s tenure as Union Finance Minister. The FIR was registered in the case after almost a decade.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 1:05:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/inx-media-money-laundering-case-ed-opposes-p-chidambarams-bail-plea-in-supreme-court/article30104732.ece

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