INX Media Case: On P Chidambaram’s bail request, Centre tells Supreme Court, it’s a ‘case of monumental magnitude’
As teams of the CBI camp outside P Chidambaram’s Delhi house, the former finance minister’s legal team on Wednesday approached a bench of the Supreme Court for interim protection from arrest in the INX media case. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal mentioned Chidambaram’s special leave petition before a bench of Justice RV Ramana to request an urgent hearing but the bench did not take a call. Instead, the judge told him that he could not pass an order right away and directed that the file be sent to the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Chidambaram’s lawyers had yesterday rushed to the Supreme Court registry to file a petition against the Delhi High Court’s ruling rejecting his request for anticipatory bail. But they were advised to approach Justice RV Ramana since Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi would be tied up with the constitution bench hearing the Ayodhya case.
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When Sibal mentioned the petition before Justice RV Ramana’s bench, the Centre’s senior law officer Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI which had been investigating the INX media case, opposed it. ‘This is a case of money laundering of monumental magnitude,’ he said.
Sibal had told the court that Chidambaram was granted protection from arrest for more than one year in the INX media cases registered by the CBI and ED. He also underscored that the high court had declined to grant any protection from arrest to enable him to approach the apex court and the former minister shouldn’t be arrested in the interim.
It is not clear if Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has passed any order on the administrative side.
The Congress’ three top lawyers, Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi and Salman Khurshid are part of Chidambaram’s effort to block the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate from arresting him.
Chidambaram had earlier denied the case against him, insisting that it was driven by political vendetta instead of facts. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has also tweeted her support, declaring that the former minister was being “shamefully hunted down”.
“An extremely qualified and respected member of the Rajya Sabha, @PChidambaram_IN ji has served our nation with loyalty for decades including as Finance Minister & Home Minister,” Priyanka Gandhi said in a two-part tweet.
According to the CBI, INX Media co-founded by Indrani and Peter Mukherjea applied to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for approval of investment of up to 26%. The board forwarded the matter to then finance minister P Chidambaram, who approved it and a press release by FIPB said that FDI was approved for Rs. 4.62 crore. According to the agency, however, INX Media violated the approval by generating more than Rs. 305 crore in FDI. The agency says Chidambaram’s son Karti had received a bribe for the approval.