INX Media: Delhi HC Reserves Order on Chidambaram's Bail Plea in ED Matter
Delhi High Court reserves order on the regular bail application filed by P Chidambaram in the ED matter against him in INX Media case.
Arguing against the bail, SG Tushar Mehta presented before the court a letter given by one of the witnesses, in a sealed cover. Justice Kait had asked the SG to show statements of witnesses that suggest Chidambaram tried to influence the witnesses.
SG also informed the court that there are 3 witnesses in the present matter that were influenced by the applicant. He argued that there's evidence to show that Chidambaram tried to win-over the witnesses.
When the judge pointed out the observation made by the Supreme Court in the anticipatory bail matter, wherein it was noted that the court shall not rely on the evidence submitted through the sealed cover as the same prejudices the accused, SG pointed out the court can refer to the material connected during the investigation under the PMLA.
SG went on to submit that the material submitted in sealed cover can be perused by the court for satisfying its conscious and the argument extended by the applicant is a misleading reading of the Supreme Court judgement.
Further, SG went on to argue that the court should not lose sight of the gravity of the present offence. He also argued that the gravity of offence under the ED matter is much more serious that the one made out in the CBI matter.
On the ground of suppressing the material evidence, SG argued that the Singapore subsidiary of the alleged benami company of the applicant, which is owned by his son Karti Chidambaram, kept on receiving crores despite not performing any professional services.
It was also argued by the SG that fake invoices and mails were generated by the aforementioned shell companies to layer and camouflage the proceeds of crime. As per ED, applicant along with his co-conspirators created shell companies, both in India and abroad, to launder money.
While arguing the rejoinder, Abhishek Manu Singhvi countered SG's argument regarding influencing the witnesses by saying that the case of an accused influencing the witnesses while being in custody is the rarest of the rare possibility.
After hearing both the parties, Justice Kait suggested that he can peruse the sealed cover documents and cull out certain facts from therein, which are not a threat to national security or to the investigation, and ask certain questions pertaining to such facts from the applicant's counsel.
SG Tushar Mehta resisted such a move by submitting that the issue of disclosing the content of sealed cover documents to the accused was categorically dealt with by the Supreme Court's judgment in the anticipatory bail matter. He said that if the court goes ahead with this move, it will set a very bad precedent.
In the bail application, Chidambaram had averred that ED had arrested him with mala fide intention to harm his reputation.
It was also submitted in the plea that Chidambaram doesn't qualify for the triple test criteria required to deny bail. There's nothing to suggest that Chidambaram poses a flight risk. Moreover, he has always been available during investigation.
The plea also went on to mention that Chidambaram is a renowned public figure with deep roots in the society. He has been in public life for over 40 years.
It was also averred that ED has not recovered any evidence which has a potential of incriminating Chidambaram. No documents or materials, which can be potentially incriminating, have been recovered by the agency during search and seizures.
Lastly, Chidambaram had also highlighted in the plea that all other accused persons in the case are already released on bail.
Earlier, P Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court in a CBI matter against him in the INX Media case. CBI has also filed a chargesheet before Special Judge, where charges under sections 420, 468, 471 and 120B have been levelled against the former Finance Minister.