Chidambaram moves SC seeking bail in INX Media case

New Delhi: Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram today moved the Supreme Court seeking bail in the INX Media corruption case. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by justice N V Ramana.

The bench also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari said Chidambaram’s plea would be sent to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for taking a call on listing of the matter. The Congress leader, who is presently lodged in jail in judicial custody, has moved the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court’s 30 September verdict dismissing his bail plea in the case.

The high court had on Monday rejected his bail petition, saying the investigation was at an advanced stage and his influencing the witnesses cannot be ruled out. The high court had dismissed the bail petition with hard-hitting remarks that it cannot be disputed that if the case is proved against Chidambaram, the offence is on society, economy, financial stability and integrity of the country.

Chidambaram is not a “flight risk” and there is no chance of tampering with evidence but he can influence the witnesses if granted bail, it had said. Chidambaram, 74, is in custody since his arrest by the CBI on August 21. The court had said it cannot be disputed that Chidambaram has been a strong finance minister and home minister and is a Rajya Sabha MP at present.

Regarding the flight risk, the court had said it can be secured by putting conditions including surrender of passport, issuance of look out notice and the accused not being allowed to leave the country without the permission of the court (even via Nepal and Bhutan).

The high court, in its bail order, had said that from the material it seemed that FIPB Unit prepared a proposal for FDI of Rs 4.62 crore, about 46.21 per cent of the equity and the same was passed granting approval to INX Media. However, instead of Rs 4.62 crore, INX Media brought FDI of Rs 403 crore without any approval for the same, it had noted.
Chidambaram, who was a finance minister as well as home minister in the UPA government from 2004-14, was arrested from his Jor Bagh residence here and is in Tihar Jail under judicial custody till 3 October.

The high court said the trial court’s order remanding Chidambaram to judicial custody was “justified”. The CBI had registered an FIR on 15 May, 2017, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017. The high court had said that as per documents filed by the CBI in a sealed cover, it was revealed during investigation that INX Media’s former promoters Indrani and Peter Mukherjea had allegedly met Chidambaram even prior to the filing of application before FIPB Unit.

He had “assured them regarding the FIPB approval and in lieu thereof, directed that the ‘business interest’ of his son Karti Chidambaram, who is also an accused, should be taken care of and certain overseas transactions should made in his favour,” the court had noted as said in the CBI’s report.

The court had said it was on record that illegal gratification has been paid by and through other companies by Indrani and Peter to the firms controlled and owned by the “co-conspirator and co-accused Karti”.