Plea by P Chidambaram for anticipatory bail in INX Media Case by ED: Live Updates from Supreme Court

Plea by P Chidambaram for anticipatory bail in INX Media Case by ED: Live Updates from Supreme Court

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court continues to hear the challenge to the Delhi High Court’s refusal to grant anticipatory bail in the Enforcement Directorate’s case filed against former Union Minister P Chidambaram.

The matter is being heard by a Bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna,

Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought Chidambaram’s arrest in the INX Media case.

Chidambaram was sent to custody last week in the case filed by the CBI. Chidambaram, who was remanded to CBI custody by the Special CBI Judge, also challenged the order granting custody.

On August 26, the Supreme Court rejected the SLP challenging the order of the Delhi High Court denying him protection from arrest by the CBI, upon noting that the plea had become infructuous. However, the Bench granted him interim protection from arrest by the ED.

The same day, the Special CBI Court at Rouse Avenue Court Complex extended the CBI’s custody of P Chidambaram till August 30. An application was later filed challenging the extension of remand.

During the second round of hearing before the Supreme Court yesterday, the Bench extended the interim protection granted to Chidambaram from arrest by the ED.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi are arguing for P Chidamabaram. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Live Updates of today’s hearing follow:

  • Hearing in the Supreme Court on P Chidambaram’s petition for anticipatory bail in case registered by the Enforcement Directorate begins. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta begins to make the submission for the agency.
  • Every PMLA offence has two dimensions – predicate offence and laundering. Money laundering is a separate offence independent from the predicate/scheduled offence, Mehta.
  • We would be dealing with very intelligent people. A stupid man cannot launder money. Money laundering requires layers and layers of concealment, Mehta
  • These offences leave a money trail which needs to be tracked and the evidence is difficult to collect, Mehta
  • Most of the evidence is in the form of electronic format and within minutes of it being publicised or put before the Court, it will be gone, Mehta
  • This is why evidence cannot be shared till the prosecution complaint (chargesheet in CrPC parlance) is filed, Mehta
  • Money laundering is independently a criminal offence, Mehta
  • The statute stipulates the procedure of presenting the evidence to the adjudicating officer in a sealed cover, Mehta
  • Many of the official records that the ED receives are from other countries as India is apart of a global statutory network against money laundering, Mehta
  • There are provisions for attachment of overseas assets also and in this case also, we have attached properties abroad, Mehta
  • As on date laundering is going on, laundering is an offence. Money laundering is a stand alone offence, Mehta
  • Statute states that there must be a reason to believe based on matetial in possession and such reasons to be recorded by the adjudicating authority in cases of money laundering, Mehta
  • As a prosecuting agency, we have reached the stage of power to arrest, Mehta
  • The threshold before arresting is much higher as under PMLA than under IPC. Only specified officers can make the arrest after reasons are recorded in writing. All ingredients of Article 20 are covered, Mehta
  • Mehta summarises procedure under PMLA for arrest (i) Only the Director authorised can arrest (ii) based on reasons to believe an offence is committed (iii) reasons to be recorded in writing (iv) based on material in possession (v) evidence submitted to adjudicating authority in sealed cover
  • The evidence should be kept with an independent body and the evidence can be supplied to the accused only after chargesheet is filed, Mehta
  • Mehta reading out provisions of the PMLA in relation to the evidence and sealed envelope
  • The material in possession is sacrosanct and I cannot use it arbitrarily till chargesheet is filed and cannot serve to the other side till then according to the statue, Mehta
  • It’s not done for “humiliation, humiliation, humiliation” as Mr Singhvi said yesterday but only for prevention, prevention, prevention with capital P, Mehta
  • Overseas banks have given some specific inputs regarding properties, companies etc. We have issued letters rogatory (LR), we have got some, we are awaiting some, Mehta
  • At this stage if the Court intervenes, it will be preventing us from exercising our statutory right to arrest, Mehta
  • I request the court to grant my material an exclusion from the accused at this stage of investigation. Evidence copy cannot be shared with the accused before filing chargesheet, Mehta
  • Mehta says evidence cannot be shared with accused before filing of chargesheet. Sibal interjects that he never made the case that accused should be given access to evidence but he should be confronted with it.
  • Justice Banumathi reminds Mehta that case made on P Chidambaram’s behalf was only that the Court should not be presented with evidence that has not been used to confront the accused.
  • Mehta: ADM Jabalpur was cited… ; Sibal: But, I never made the case that I should be given access to evidence, only said it should be put to me ; Mehta: Dr Singhvi made that argument. This is what happens when two counsel argue for 1 client ; Sibal: Both our arguments were same
  • This is not a witch-hunt as alleged. We have evidence in our possession and it is cogent evidence, Mehta I’m going a step further to satisfy the Court’s conscience as regards authenticity of the documents, Mehta
  • Mehta hands over a substantially large compilation of case laws to the Court and is reading out precedents to support his argument against disclosure of evidence to the accused ahead of filing of a chargesheet.
  • I’m going a step further and request the Court to peruse not just the case diary but also material on record, Mehta
  • SG Tushar Mehta also cites the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Bhima Koregaon case on a petition filed by Romila Thapar and Ors.
  • Mehta points out that in that case too, the case diary was places before the Court.
  • Bench rises for the day. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to continue his arguments on behalf of the ED tomorrow at 11.30 am

Orders in Chidambaram’s plea seeking anticipatory bail was reserved by the Delhi High Court on January 25 this year. While delivering the verdict on August 20, nearly seven months after reserving it, the High Court observed that a prima facie case was made out. The Court also rejected the argument that the case against Chidambaram was politically motivated.

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 Central Bureau of Investigation (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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