After the Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's bail plea in the Enforcement Directorate's case in connection with the INX Media transaction, the Supreme Court agreed to consider his petition against the HC order on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Stating that Chidambaram has been in custody for almost 90 days, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before freshly sworn-in Chief Justice S. A. Bobde on Monday.
The High Court had observed that the allegations are serious in nature and that there was prima facie evidence to show that he had played key and active role in the case.
While dealing with the issue of triple test, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait noted that there are no cogent grounds to believe that the Petitioner poses a flight risk or has a potential of tampering with evidence. He also noted that since the complaint is about to be filed in the present case, the question of influencing the witnesses is also ruled out.
The court also noted that the co-accused in the case, Karti Chidambaram, is already out on bail.
Despite making the following observations on triple test, the court went on to dismiss bail primarily on the ground that the Petitioner is alleged with serious economic offences which should be dealt with seriously by the courts.
The court cited arguments made by SG Tushar Mehta on shell companies abroad, generation of fake invoices by the companies controlled by Karti and layering of money in bank accounts, to opine that the allegations against the Petitioner are prima facie serious, hence relief in the form of bail cannot be warranted.
While making its order, the court also highlighted that the materials and investigation conducted by the ED is different from that conducted by the CBI.
Granting bail will send a wrong message to the society; entire community would be aggrieved if such offenders are allowed to go free, observed the Court, while adding that the observations are not conclusive.
After the impugned order was made public, a bizarre fact came to light that the order seems to have reproduced facts from another order passed by the Supreme court in an unrelated case of money-laundering.
Certain paragraphs in the copy of the judgement are identical to the paragraphs in the bail order passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Rohit Tandon v. Directorate of Enforcement, dated November 10 2017.
Between paragraphs 35-49 of the judgment, there are instances where the paragraphs from the order in Tandon's case can be found, in exactly the same verbatim, in Justice Suresh Kumar Kait's order in Chidambaram's case.
It may be worth mentioning that on Friday, the Supreme Court noticed that the petition Enforcement Directorate in D K Shivakumar case had copy-pasted portions from their earlier petition in Chidambaram case. Because, the Congress leader Shivakumar was referred to as former Union Finance Minister and former Union Home Minister. The SC dismissed ED's petition after observing "this is not the way to treat a citizen".