SC grants bail to Chidambaram in INX Media case
22 October 2019
The Supreme Court today granted bail to former finance minister P Chidambaram, two months after he was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case.
A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi set aside the Delhi High Court’s 30 September verdict denying him bail in the corruption case.
The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, granted bail to Chidambaram on a personal bond of Rs1 lakh with one surety of the like amount. The top court said Chidambaram be released on bail if not required in any other case.
"The appellant Chidambaram is said to be aged 74 years and is also said to be suffering from age-related health problems. Considering the above factors and the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the appellant is entitled to be granted bail," the judges said.
Rejecting the CBI's argument that Chidambaram is a flight risk, the Supreme Court said the investigating agency did not provide any evidence on how the witness was influenced - "SMS, e-mail, letter or telephonic calls and the persons who have approached the material witnesses."
The bench, however, made it clear that Chidambaram will not leave the country without prior permission of the court and make himself available for interrogation as and when called by the probe agency.
The bench clarified that its observation in the order granting bail to Chidambaram in the INX media corruption case would not have any bearing in other pending cases against him.
He is currently in ED’s custody in connection with a separate money laundering case.
The CBI arrested Chidambaram in connection with the graft case on 21 August while slapping charges of causing loss to the exchequer by allegedly committing offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code in connivance with his son Karti and some bureaucrats.
The top court also dismissed the CBI’s plea challenging the findings of the high court which had said that Chidambaram was not a flight risk and cannot tamper with the evidence. The bench also said the high court should not have gone into the merits of the case while deciding Chidambaram’s petition.
The apex court’s order came on Chidambaram’s appeal challenging the high court verdict denying him bail in the case.
The CBI registered an FIR on 15 May 2017 alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.
The court had, on 15 October, allowed the probe agency to question Chidambaram in its custody and allowed home cooked food, a separate cell, a western toilet, spectacles and medicines for the veteran Congress leader. He was also allowed to meet family members and relatives for half-an-hour every day.