P Chidambaram produced before CBI Court: Live Updates from Rouse Avenue
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P Chidambaram produced before CBI Court: Live Updates from Rouse Avenue

Bar & Bench

A Special CBI Court at Rouse Avenue Court Complex in Delhi is hearing the application filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking custody of former Union Minister P Chidambaram.

The ED had moved the Special CBI Court last week seeking Chidambaram’s custodial interrogation. Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar had then ordered the production of P Chidambaram before Court.

ED had sought his custodial interrogation on the ground that it was necessary to help uncover the laundering of proceeds of crime which have been parked in foreign countries.

Live updates of today’s hearing follow:

  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for Enforcement Directorate begins his submissions. “There is a finding by the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of P Chidambaram is necessary”, Mehta moves application for P Chidambaram’s arrest and remand.

Arguments by Kapil Sibal:

  • Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal objects with respect to the procedure adopted by the agency. Enforcement Directorate cannot arrest him and seek his custody, Sibal says.
  • “Yes, the Supreme Court said that they could arrest him. But they chose not to do so.”
  • There cannot be a remand after the 15 day period is over when the act under question here forms part of the same transaction which CBI is investigating.
  • The FIR was registered by CBI and ECIR was registered by ED based on that. There is no separate transaction.
  • As long as the transaction is same, the offences may be different, there cannot be an extension of remand beyond 15 days.
  • P Chidambaram could not have been brought to Court in this manner. It is contrary to law.
  • Production could be done only in case of inquiry or trial. Investigation is neither inquiry or trial. Production of a person for arrest is unknown to law. Sibal reads section 267 CrPC to support his contention.
  • No application could have been filed under Section 267 for his production before Court.
  • “Other proceeding” in section 267 CrPC cannot be read to mean “investigation”.
  • Investigating Agency cannot use the aegis of Court to seek Chidambaram’s arrest when no proceedings are pending before it.
  • Even the Delhi High Court Rules prohibit production of an accused in this fashion.
  • Sibal refers to a remand application filed by the CBI earlier in the case to state that both CBI and ED are investigating the same transaction.
  • The moment money is given as quid pro quo, if it is a corrupt practice, it is proceeds of crime. If you look at the ECIR and FIR, it is verbatim.
  • This application for remand does not lie. He could not have been called from Tihar.
  • Even the order passed by the CBI Court while dismissing the earlier surrender application had recorded that the surrender could not be accepted since nothing was pending before the Court.
  • Sibal urges Court to withdraw and cancel the production warrant.
  • Sibal points out that production warrant was ex parte without issuing notice.

Arguments by SG Tushar Mehta:

  • When we start with wrong questions, we end up with wrong arguments, Mehta.
  • Money laundering in an independent and standalone offence.
  • Money laundering not part of same transaction. It is a separate offence. The root may be the predicate offence.
  • The law recognizes that Section 3,4 PMLA are separate and distinct offence.
  • Mehta cites cases to support his claim.
  • A person in judicial custody is deemed to be in the Court’s custody and it is not possible to arrest him without the Court’s permission.
  • Section 19 PMLA gives ED a distinct, separate power to arrest.
  • The application for withdrawal of the production warrant is not maintainable as the court has no power to review.
  • Section 267 CrPC includes investigation under the term “other proceedings”. We cannot barge into judicial custody to make an arrest.
  • CBI cannot go into proceeds of crime, only ED can investigate that.
  • No review lies against order of production warrant. They can move an appeal.
  • Mehta urges Court to allow ED to arrest to P Chidambaram. I will press the remand application in half and hour after arrest.

Sibal’s rejoinder arguments:

  • ED cannot seek remand under PMLA when there has already been a remand under IPC.
  • CrPc makes no distinction when the transaction is the same.
  • ED has no power to arrest because the maximum period for remand is over.
  • Sec 19 PMLA doesn’t require permission from Court to arrest.
  • You cannot bring in an accused before Court for a formal arrest.
  • If the predicate offence falls, money laundering will also fall. That’s why it is the same transaction.
  • Mehta reads Section 44 PMLA to conclude his argument.
  • In the event the order goes against us, it is our request to allow the same facilities to Chidambaram which were provided when he was arrested by CBI.
  • CBI Court reserves order. I will pass orders on the applications tomorrow, Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in connection with the INX Media case on August 21, a day after the Delhi High Court denied his anticipatory bail plea. Subsequently, Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the Supreme Court.

After the expiry of the maximum time period of police custody, the Court had remanded Chidambaram to judicial custody on September 5. On September 13, Chidambaram’s surrender application in connection with the ED case was dismissed by the CBI Court after the agency contended that it did want his custodial interrogation at that time. The ED had then clarified that it would move the Court for Chidambaram’s custodial interrogation at the appropriate time.

Chidambaram’s regular bail plea in the CBI case was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on September 30. An appeal against the dismissal is presently pending before the Supreme Court. This matter will be taken up on October 15. Chidambaram’s judicial custody ends on October 17.

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.

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