New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea by former finance minister P. Chidambaram in connection with the INX Media case.
"Bail application dismissed," Justice Sunil Gaur said.
The court also declined interim protection from arrest to the Congress leader till he approached the Supreme Court in the corruption and money-laundering cases related to the INX Media scam.
"This court cannot permit the prose in this sensitive case to end up in smoke like it has happened in some other high profile cases," the court said.
“Economic offence constitutes a class part and need to be visited with a different approach in matter of bail. Taking note of the huge magnitude of conspiracy angle qua petitioner, it would be premature to jump to a conclusion that provisions of PMLA would not imply," it further added.
The court stated that the twin factors weighing against Chidambaram were the gravity of the offence and his evasive replies to questions put to him by probing agencies. The court called it a “classic case of money laundering."
"The gravity of offence committed in this case justify denial of pre-arrest bail... The facts persuade me to decline pre-arrest bail to petitioner while refraining to comment on merits of the case," the order reads.
"(It is) preposterous to say prosecution of the petitioner (P Chidambaram) is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta," the court said in response to the submissions made by Chidambaram that the arrest was politically motivated.
"It cannot be forgotten that the petitioner was the finance minister at the relevant time and he had given FDI clearances to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of ₹305 crore… Simply because he is a Member of Parliament, it would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to him," the order said.
The case relates to a First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation on 15 May 2017 against alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance provided to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of ₹305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was the finance minister. The In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) lodged a money-laundering case in this regard.
On July 25, 2018, the high court granted him interim protection from arrest till 1 August. While the interim protection has been extended from time to time by the high court, it had also directed . Chidambaram to cooperate with probing agencies. The high court had reserved it order on his anticipatory bail plea on January 25 this year.
During the arguments, both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had opposed his bail plea on the ground that his custodial interrogation was required as he was being evasive during the probe.