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Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi today told the Supreme Court that P Chidambaram was denied bail by the Delhi High Court in the INX media case even though the findings were in his favour.
Singhvi told the Bench of Justices R Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy that this was a curious case of bail denial. The triple test based on which grant of bail is decided was majorly found in Chidambaram’s favour, and yet, bail was denied, the Congress leader submitted.
“…operation is successful but the patient has died,” Singhvi said.
The High Court found that Chidambaram was neither a flight risk nor could he have tampered with evidence. Bail was, however, denied after the Court found that the possibility of his influencing the witnesses cannot be ruled out.
“It is a settled principle that bail cannot be denied based on apprehension. The judge has not found any material but said that possibility of influencing witnesses cannot be ruled out. It’s an apprehension.”
Singhvi added that while bail is the rule and jail is an exception, bail was denied to Chidambaram based on what was submitted to the Court in a sealed cover. It was also argued that the possibility of witness tampering was a “desperate afterthought” by the prosecution and a “fake argument” in an attempt to deny bail to Chidambaram.
“This is a speculative hypothetical non-finding that ‘it cannot be ruled out that he may influence the witness’….This witness tampering is a spurious last minute attempt to deny me bail.”
To buttress his point, Singhvi questioned why no steps were taken by the prosecution under the witness protection scheme if it apprehended that witnesses may be approached by Chidambaram.
The credibility of witness Indrani Mukherjea was also questioned by Singhvi, who pointed out that she was in jail at the time, on charges of murdering her own daughter.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal also made his submissions in favour of Chidambaram today. The Court adjourned the hearing till tomorrow, when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will make its arguments.
Chidambaram had approached the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court had rejected his plea seeking regular bail in the INX Media case registered against him by the CBI.
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.
The CBI had arrested P Chidambaram on August 21 after his anticipatory bail plea in the case was rejected by the High Court.
Chidambaram, who spent a fortnight in police custody after his arrest, was thereafter remanded to judicial custody. His plea for regular bail was rejected by the Special CBI Judge sitting at the Rouse Avenue Court Complex in Delhi. Later, bail was denied by the Delhi High Court as well.