NEW DELHI :
A special court on Wednesday sent former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram to judicial custody till 27 November in the INX Media money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The proceedings were held via video conferencing as the Delhi district courts are not functioning due to a lawyers’ strike. The agency had sought extension of custody by 14 days.
The Delhi high court on 8 November reserved its order in the veteran Congress leader’s regular bail plea.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for ED, had argued that the court should not lose sight of the gravity of the present offence. He had also submitted that the alleged offence in the ED matter is graver than the one in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Congress leader, had dismissed the possibility of Chidambaram influencing witnesses while being held in custody. Chidambaram through his bail application had said that he did not have the propensity to evade the process of law, and has been available for investigation throughout.
Subsequently, Chidambaram, who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail, had sought an interim bail on the grounds of ill health. However, the Delhi high court on 1 November disposed it of based on the AIIMS Medical Board report, which opined that he need not be admitted to a hospital.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait had issued directions to the Tihar Jail superintendent to keep Chidambaram’s cell clean, and provide mineral water, etc.
On 23 October, the Supreme Court had set aside a Delhi high court order and granted bail to Chidambaram in the INX Media corruption case registered by the CBI.
Chidambaram has now spent over two months in captivity—CBI and ED custody, and then in Tihar.
The CBI, on 15 May 2017, had registered a first information report (FIR) against Chidambaram for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance provided to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of ₹305 crore in 2007 when he was the finance minister.
The money laundering case registered by the ED dates back to 2018.