P Chidambaram asks SC to hear bail plea before Dussehra, Chief Justice to decide
Former finance minister P Chidambaram, who has been in Tihar jail for four weeks, moved the Supreme Court on Thursday to seek bail in the CBI’s INX Media group case and requested the court to schedule an early hearing.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal asked a bench led by Justice NV Ramana to see if the court could hold the hearing before the week-long Dussehra break that begins Monday. Chidambaram’s legal team was told by the top court that his request for an urgent hearing would be decided by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Chidambaram’s request for bail in the Supreme Court comes days after the Delhi High Court turned down his bail application on the ground that the 74-year-old Congress leader was an influential person who had been the country’s finance and home minister and could influence witnesses.
The high court had, however, rejected the CBI concern that he could flee the country and felt that this was a risk that could be taken care of.
In the Supreme Court, the senior Congress leader’s legal team is also expected to argue that the Enforcement Directorate - which had vehemently opposed his request for an arrest shield -- didn’t appear to be in a rush to question him any longer.
Chidambaram’s lawyers allege that the Enforcement Directorate was waiting for the veteran Congress leader to be released on bail before coming down to arrest him again and then, send him to Tihar jail for the second time.
The CBI has alleged irregularities in the grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media co-founded by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea to receive overseas investment to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Peter and Indrani Mukerjea have been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with P Chidambaram’s son Karti, to secure clearance from FIPB. Indrani, however, turned approver against Chidambaram and told the CBI that a deal of $1 million had been struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure the approvals. P Chidambaram and son Karti have denied that they ever met Indrani Mukherjea.