(Story updated with judgment)
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of Senior Advocate and former Union minister P Chidambaram in the corruption and money laundering cases related to the INX Media scandal.
Justice Sunil Gaur, who delivered the judgement, had reserved the decision on January 25.
The judge observed that this was a "classic case of money laundering". Facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner is the king pin or the key conspirator, said the Court.
The Court cited the gravity of the offence and evasive replies given by Chidambaram to the questions put to him while he was under interim protection from arrest as the "twin factors to deny pre-arrest bail".
"Simply because petitioner is a sitting member of Parliament., would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to petitioner in this sensitive case. Offenders must be exposed, no matter what their status is. Petition is a member of legal fraternity too But this by itself does not and justice concession of pre-arrest bail to him", observed Justice Gaur in the judgment.
During the arguments, both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had opposed Chidambaram's plea on the ground that his custodial interrogation was required as he was evasive during questioning.
Both the probe agencies had contended that during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister, FIPB clearance was granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007.
ED contended that the companies in which money was transferred are directly or indirectly controlled by Chidambaram's son, Karti, and they have a reason to believe that the FIPB approval was granted to INX Media on his son's intervention.
The high court had on July 25, 2018 granted interim protection from arrest to Chidambaram in both the cases and it was extended from time to time.
The senior Congress leader's role had come under the scanner of various investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.
It was during his tenure as finance minister in the UPA-I government that clearances from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) were given to the two ventures.
In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, the ED had in 2018 lodged the money laundering case in this regard.
Chidambaram's petition had said that though no summons had ever been served on him by the ED in this case, he had an apprehension of arrest in view of the summons issued to him by the CBI, which was investigating the scheduled offence.
(With PTI inputs)
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