New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear the appeals of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media case against the order of the Madras high court refusing to quash the FIR in the matter in the third week of April.
The matter is being heard by a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud. During the hearing, senior advocates Gopal Subramanian and A.M. Singhvi, appearing for Karti, the son of Congress leader P. Chidambaram, said they are aggrieved by the 22 August 2017, high court order by which it had refused to quash the FIR lodged by the CBI in the case and directed him to approach the Delhi high court as per “forum of convenience" for the relief.
Subramanian said when Karti’s properties are in Chennai, search and seizures were conducted there, and the alleged conspiracy was also said to have been hatched in the Tamil Nadu capital, the Madras high court should have decided the issue.
Advocate Rajat Nayar, who appeared for the CBI, which has filed a separate appeal against the same order, said they are also aggrieved by the high court’s finding that it had the jurisdiction to decide the matter. “In a criminal matter, only one high court has the jurisdiction to decide the issue. In this present case only Delhi High Court had the jurisdiction as FIR is registered in Delhi and trial is going before a magisterial court in Delhi," he said.
The bench was also informed that the Madras high court has reserved its judgement on the pleas relating to the issuance of two look out circulars against Karti and others in connection with a corruption case. The bench said since other connected matters are listed for hearing in April, it will take up the appeals in the third week of the month.
On 14 March, the apex court had extended the interim relief from arrest granted by the Delhi high court to Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case till 26 March, and said it would clear the “confusion" which has crept in due to divergent views of different high courts on the Enforcement Directorate’s powers to arrest an accused.
It had transferred to itself the matters pending before the Delhi high court relating to the powers of the Enforcement Directorate to make arrests in money laundering cases, and also a plea filed by Karti seeking protection from arrest in the case filed by the ED.
Karti is currently in jail in connection with the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI. The ED is also separately probing a related money laundering case against him. In his plea before the high court, Karti has sought striking down of the ED’s powers of arrest under section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), besides quashing of the enforcement case information report and the probe being carried out by the agency.
He has also sought striking down the presumption codified in section 24 of the PMLA which says that when a person is accused of having committed an offence under section 3 (money laundering) the burden of proving that the alleged proceeds of the crime are untainted property shall be on the accused.
ED has challenged in the top court the 9 March order the Delhi high court granting interim protection to Karti. Karti was arrested by the CBI on 28 February in Chennai immediately after he had returned from abroad.
The CBI FIR, filed on 15 May last year, has alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media for receiving Rs305 crore in overseas funds in 2007 when P. Chidambaram was the Union finance minister.