New Delhi, August 20: A court today rejected an appeal for anticipatory bail from Congress’s P Chidambaram, opening up the possibility of arrest of the former Union Minister in the INX Media case. Denying anticipatory bail, the Delhi High Court said, “Facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner is the kingpin, that is, the key conspirator in this case”. Chidambaram’s legal team, led by Kapil Sibal, is challenging the order in the Supreme Court, sources said. They are expected to request an early hearing.
Chidambaram has been questioned several times in the case, which involves alleged kickbacks received by his son Karti Chidambaram in exchange for allowing the television company to receive foreign funds to the tune of Rs. 305 crore in 2007. At the time, Mr Chidambaram was the finance minister in the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh. It has been alleged that that he was instrumental in providing government clearance to INX Media to receive foreign funds.
The former minister has denied any irregularities in the matter, saying he is being targeted by the BJP-led Central government for political reasons. Last year, he had appealed to the Delhi High Court for anticipatory bail. The court had given him interim relief. But it got cancelled with the court’s negative response today.
“It is preposterous to say the prosecution of Chidambaram is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta. It is a classic case of money laundering,” said Justice Sunil Gaur, who was hearing the case. “This is an economic offence and has to be dealt with iron hands… The hands of investigating agencies cannot be tied up in such a massive economic offence”.
The court said the “magnitude and enormity” of material produced by the investigating agencies “dis-entitles him from any pre-arrest bail”. The judge petitioner, he added, has been “evasive in his replies and has not cooperated with the investigations”.
Karti Chidambaram — who is also being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI — has been accused of getting the government clearance for INX Media. Last year, he was arrested in the case and remained in custody for 23 days.
At the time, the television company was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently in jail, accused of being involved in the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora.
The two had made a series of allegations, linking Karti Chidambaram and P Chidambaram to the bribes they claimed to have given. (NDTV)