NEW DELHI :
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday extended till 30 August the CBI’s custody of former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media case, even as the Supreme Court extended interim protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The Supreme Court, however, dismissed a separate anticipatory bail plea by him, saying it has become “infructuous" as he had already been arrested by the CBI.
Chidambaram’s plea challenging the remand order of the CBI court was not listed and, hence, could not be argued.
The division bench of the apex court, headed by Justice R. Bhanumati and comprising Justice A.S. Bopanna, directed Chidambaram to file a rejoinder to the brief reply affidavit filed by ED. The hearing will continue on Tuesday.
The bench dismissed the plea in the CBI case challenging the 20 August order passed by Delhi high court rejecting the anticipatory bail petition of Chidambaram. It observed that a regular bail petition before the trial court should not be influenced by Delhi high court’s observations.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Chidambaram, argued that he should not have been arrested as the bail application was pending before the Supreme Court. Sibal argued that due legal procedures have not been followed in his arrest and the fundamental rights under Article 21 granting freedom of life and liberty have been severely violated.
“If something is found after probing documents, it should be put before the accused so that he can give an explanation. Here, it’s a one-way street where documents are produced in court but not before the accused," he argued. “He’s being asked questions like ‘do you have a Twitter account...’ this is the quality of investigation during custodial interrogation."
During the anticipatory bail plea in the ED case, Sibal submitted the allegations against Chidamabaram and argued that there are lacunas in the legal procedures. “P. Chidambaram is being made vicariously liable. The ED’s case seems to be that since he’s Karti’s father, he must be involved....there is no charge-sheet filed naming him so prima facie no offence has been committed," Sibal argued.
Chidambaram was produced before special CBI judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar at the Rouse Avenue Court complex on Monday. While solicitor general Tushar Mehta sought a five-day extension of the custody, the court extended the former Union minister’s CBI custody till 30 August.
“…I am of the view that further police custody remained of the accused P. Chidambaram is justified and accordingly the accused is remanded to further police custody till 30.08.2019," the order read. Chidambaram was sent to CBI custody last Thursday.
During the hearing, Mehta told the court that Chidambaram needs to be confronted by the co-accused in the INX Media corruption case. However, the CBI did not disclose the names of the co-accused. Mehta argued that some emails and documents related to the case also need to be examined and, therefore, the CBI wanted Chidambaram in custody.
Questions regarding the evidence collected by the ED and handed over to the CBI will be put to Chidambaram, so that he reveals the “larger conspiracy", he added.
Sibal opposed the plea, arguing that no documents have been shown so far to prove the allegations made against the Congress leader, nor has he been asked anything about the alleged payments. “If you don’t want to show the documents to us, at least show it to the court," he added.
The CBI had registered the case against Chidambaram under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code, while the ED registered the case under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act.