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The Supreme Court today dismissed the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by former Union Minister P Chidambaram challenging the order of the Delhi High Court denying him protection from arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The order was passed by a Bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna.
At the outset, Justice Banumathi said that the plea as far as the CBI is concerned is now rendered infructuous. In response, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for P Chidambaram, said,
“The Supreme Court order was for hearing, not listing. I was not given a hearing. I was entitled to anticipatory bail and I should have been heard.”
However, Banumathi J responded,
“We cannot convert the SLP where you are challenging the High Court order to a bail plea.”
At this point, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi intervened, stating that the Supreme Court had ordered for a hearing on August 23. He submitted that the CBI, by arresting Chidambaram on August 21, should not have acted in such way to render a judicial order ineffective. He said,
“The CBI had no business arresting P Chidambaram when the plea was pending here.”
However, the Court proceeded to dismiss the SLP filed by Chidambaram challenging the Delhi High Court order as far as the CBI investigation was concerned.
The Bench then began to hear the challenge to the case filed by the Enforcement Directorate against Chidambaram.
On August 20, the Delhi High Court delivered its judgment rejecting anticipatory bail to P Chidambaram, following which his legal team immediately rushed to the Supreme Court to challenge this order. On August 21, several attempts were made by Chidambaram’s legal team to secure an urgent listing of the case, with his lawyers going back and forth from Justice NV Ramana to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. However, despite these efforts, Chidambaram failed to secure an urgent hearing in the case with the matter eventually being listed for August 23.
The Supreme Court granted him interim protection from arrest in the cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate till the next date of hearing.
Earlier today, it was found that Chidambaram’s bail plea as well as his petition challenging the Special Judge’s order were not list for hearing. Sibal had mentioned the matter before the Bench.