New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday extended till tomorrow protection from arrest granted to former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said it would hear the arguments of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Chidambaram’s two petitions, including the challenge to remand orders, on Wednesday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, filed an application seeking direction to the ED to produce the transcripts of the questioning conducted on 19 December last year and 1 January and 21 January this year in the case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for ED, said he would like to reply to the fresh application during the course of his arguments. The transcripts will show whether Chidambaram was evasive during his questioning, as alleged by the ED, Sibal said. He also told the bench that the ED cannot place documents in the court randomly and “behind the back” for seeking Chidambaram’s custody.
“They are just producing documents at random and saying this is part of the case diary,” Sibal said, adding, “They cannot place the documents behind the back and seek custody of accused.”
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for Chidambaram, referred to the constitutional and legal provisions and said that fundamental right of citizens under Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) cannot be suspended. Singhvi argued that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was amended in 2009 whereas the allegations in the case are of 2007-2008.
“You try and paint a person as a kingpin when these alleged offences did not exist at that time,” he told the court during the arguments which will continue in the post lunch session. The apex court had on Monday extended till Tuesday the protection from arrest given to Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case lodged by the ED. The CBI had registered an FIR on 15 May, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case against him in 2017.