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The Supreme Court today granted bail to former Union Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The decision of the Delhi High Court denying Chidambaram bail has thus been set aside. The Supreme Court has also held that the findings of the High Court are not to have a bearing on the proceedings in the case.
Chidambaram is to be released forthwith, provided he is not required in custody in any other case. Chidambaram is currently under the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a separate case registered by the agency pertaining to the INX Media case.
The judgment was rendered by the Bench of Justices R Banumathi, AS Bopanna, and Hrishikesh Roy in a petition filed by the former Union Minister seeking bail in the case filed by the CBI against him.
Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21 shortly after his anticipatory bail was rejected by the Delhi High Court and before the appeal against the same could be taken up by the Supreme Court. After being remanded to police custody, the Senior Congress leader was subsequently sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody.
In the meantime, a bail plea was moved before the Special CBI Judge sitting at Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court Complex. This plea was rejected, leading to an appeal before the Delhi High Court.
While pronouncing the judgment, the Delhi High Court observed that Chidambaram was neither at flight risk, nor could he tamper with any evidence. However, his bail plea was rejected on the ground that there was a possibility that he could influence witnesses in the case.
While arguing for Chidambaram before the Supreme Court, Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi both objected to the findings of the High Court. Even though the findings with respect to the triple test for grant of bail were in favour of Chidambaram, the High Court had rejected his bail, it was argued.
In the meantime, the CBI also filed its chargesheet in the case two days before the statutory period of 60 days in custody under the law was about to end. Chidambaram, along with his son Karti, Peter Mukherjea of INX Media, and some government officials have been named as accused in this chargesheet. The CBI, through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, had submitted that the investigation was not fully complete. Some aspects were still under the lens and thus, bail at this stage should not be granted, Mehta had argued.
The INX Media case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media at the time when P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. It is the case of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram received illegal gratification from INX Media owners Peter and Indrani Mukherjea for the clearance.
Read the order: