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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

HC seeks CBI reply on P Chidambaram’s plea

Justice Suresh Kait issued notice to CBI and asked it to file a status report within seven days, listing the matter for September 23.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2019 01:15 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
New Delhi
Delhi High court on Thursday sought the response of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a plea by former Union Minister P Chidambaram seeking regular bail in the  INX Media case
Delhi High court on Thursday sought the response of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a plea by former Union Minister P Chidambaram seeking regular bail in the INX Media case(PTI)
         

The Delhi High court on Thursday sought the response of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a plea by former Union Minister P Chidambaram seeking regular bail in the INX Media case. The Congress leader has been in judicial custody since September 5. He was arrested by CBI on August 21 and spent 14 days in the agency’s custody.

Justice Suresh Kait issued notice to CBI and asked it to file a status report within seven days, listing the matter for September 23. The court also refused Chidambaram’s request that he be provided home cooked food in Tihar jail, where he is lodged, and allowed to meet his family.

With today’s order, the former finance and home minister will now spend his 74th birthday on September 16 in Tihar jail after he was sent to judicial custody till September 19, on September 5 by the trial court. Chidambaram challenged this order and also sought regular bail through an application in the Delhi High Court.

On Thursday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, withdrew his plea challenging the order of the trial court sending his client to Tihar jail after the court sought to know why he had filed two separate pleas.

“You are three-four seniors (senior lawyers) here. Ultimately, after judicial custody, the bail application will be heard… I am seeing this kind of petition for the first time,” Justice Kait said, following which the plea challenging judicial custody was “dismissed a withdrawn”.

Sibal told the court that his client is not needed anymore in the investigation. He said that his client had joined the investigation and hence should be granted regular bail. He said that the case was registered 10 years after the alleged offence took place.

However, opposing the plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, told the court that they are at the “pre-charge sheet stage” and that investigations have revealed that Chidambaram indulged in corrupt practices. He submitted that Chidambaram took crores of rupees and that his anticipatory bail was rejected by the Delhi High Court paving way for his arrest.

While, Sibal was seeking a short date in the matter, the court questioned him about the delay in filing the regular bail application. To this Sibal replied that there were holidays and court was shut during this time. However, the judge asked: “When you can run to the Supreme Court on the same day, then could the bail plea not be filed earlier?”. Denying the request for home-cooked food, the judge added that the same food is available to everyone in prison, even 84-year-old INLD chief O P Chautala, who is serving a 10-year-jail term in the JBT teachers scam.

Meanwhile, a CBI court also reserved for Friday, its order on a plea by Chidambaram seeking permission to surrender before the Enforcement Directorate in connection with alleged money laundering, also related to the same case of INX Media.

Sibal told the court that the ED wants to make Chidambaram suffer and harass him (once he is released on bail in the CBI case). He asked why the agency hasn’t arrested Chidambaram so far.

However, opposing this contention, SG Tushar Mehta told the court that nothing has changed and the reasons for arrest still exists. He said that the agency would take him in custody when it is well prepared so that it can efficiently use the 15 days of interrogation.

Following the arguments, the court reserved it order and posted the matter for Friday.

First Published: Sep 13, 2019 01:15 IST