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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

‘My health fragile’: Chidambaram moves bail plea in high court after SC order

Chidambaram’s request for bail comes just a day after the SC granted him bail in a related case probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, rejecting the Centre’s argument that he could influence witnesses if set free.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2019 17:31 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
P Chidambaram
P Chidambaram(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
         

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday approached the Delhi High Court to seek bail in the INX Media case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

Chidambaram’s request for bail comes just a day after the Supreme Court granted him bail in a related case probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, rejecting the Centre’s argument that he could influence witnesses if set free.

The top court had also turned down Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s plea that Chidambaram had the means to flee the country like other alleged economic offenders such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi.

The senior politician also underlined that his health was fragile and had already suffered two bouts of illness. The petition said he had lost 5 kg during the two months that he had spent in custody. “It is submitted that with the onset of cold weather and the incidents of dengue etc, the petitioner’s health is likely to become more vulnerable,” he said.

Chidambaram also told the court that he was arrested by the ED only on 16 October though he had requested the court to let him surrender a month earlier. But the Special Judge erred in rejecting his surrender request, Chidambaram’s legal team argued in the petition for bail. The veteran Congress leader also reiterated that his arrest was malafide and only designed to harm his reputation.

Pointing to the Supreme Court’s order granting him bail on Tuesday, Chidambaram said it had been held by the top court that “a mere averment that the petitioner allegedly approached witnesses without any material basis cannot be a reason to deny regular bail”.

The ex-union minister was first arrested by the CBI on 21 August in a 2017 case relating to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) decision allowing INX Media to receive foreign direct investment in excess of the approved amount a decade earlier. The ED later registered a money laundering case on the basis of its probe in the CBI case.

It was in this case that the Supreme Court granted him bail on Tuesday. But 74-year-old politician needs to get bail in the second case investigated by the ED to be released.

Chidambaram claimed that he had been falsely implicated by the federal agencies. “Not even an iota of evidence of any undisclosed bank account or undisclosed property or undisclosed shell company being owned/held by the petitioner has been found either by the CBI or the ED,” he said.

Pertinently, Chidambaram said the agencies had not confronted him with any documents or material concerning the alleged foreign accounts, foreign assets or the shell companies that he is alleged to be linked to.