INX Media case: SC protects Karti Chidambaram from arrest by ED till March 26
The Supreme Court also transferred to itself the matter pending before Delhi high court in view of conflicting views by different high courts on ED’s power to arrest an accused.india Updated: Mar 15, 2018 23:16 IST
The Supreme Court extended the interim protection against arrest to Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, in the INX Media case and directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to arrest him until March 26.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also transferred to itself Karti’s petition in the Delhi HC, questioning the money laundering probe against him, which he said has been initiated without filing a formal complaint. Karti has challenged the power of the ED to arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The HC on March 9 restrained ED from arresting him till March 20. But hours before the Supreme Court took up his case on Thursday, the HC extended protection by two more days, until March 22.
Karti is accused of having received a bribe in 2007 for allegedly facilitating foreign investment worth Rs305 crore for INX Media, owned by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, when his father headed the finance ministry in the UPA-II government.
Aggrieved by the high court order, the ED had rushed to the Supreme Court, saying it would set a bad precedent and could hamper probe in other cases such as the PNB fraud involving jeweller Nirav Modi. The order, it said, amounted to grant of pre-arrest bail to Karti.
The bench agreed to transfer Karti’s petition after it was informed that different high courts had passed conflicting orders on the powers of the authorities to arrest a person without registering a first information report (FIR) as it involved interpretation of the statute. Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta argued that clarity is needed on the subject from SC.
The court said it would examine if HCs can grant anticipatory bail. Mehta contended the registration of an ECIR (Economic Case Information Report) is itself based on a cognizable offence and ED has the power to arrest, search, seize and attach properties under the law.