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The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the plea filed by former Union Minister P Chidambaram seeking bail in the INX Media case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The Court said that the matter will be heard either “tomorrow or day after”.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal mentioned the case for urgent hearing before a Bench headed by newly sworn-in Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and also comprising Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant.
Sibal told the Court that Chidambaram has been in jail for 90 days and was denied bail by the High Court.
Last Friday, the Delhi High Court had denied Chidambaram bail in the ED case. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait observed that prima facie, the allegations against Chidambaram were serious in nature and that he played a “key and active role”.
While the Delhi High Court had concluded that the triple test for bail was satisfied in the present case, it rejected bail on the basis of the gravity of the economic offence at hand. The judgment, however, attracted controversy when it was found to contain unusual references to the orders passed by the Delhi High Court as well as the Supreme Court in Rohit Tandon’s bail plea.
The INX Media case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media when P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister of India.
It is the case of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED that P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram received illegal gratification from INX Media owners Peter and Indrani Mukherjea for the clearance.
The CBI had arrested P Chidambaram on August 21 after his anticipatory bail plea in the case was rejected by the Delhi High Court.
Chidambaram, who spent a fortnight in police custody after his arrest, was thereafter remanded to judicial custody. Later, his regular bail was denied by the Delhi High Court as well. He was granted regular bail in the CBI case by the Supreme Court subsequently. The CBI’s review petition before the Supreme Court against the order granting bail to Chidambaram is presently pending.