New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday rejected former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s regular bail application in the controversial INX Media case.
The 74-year-old Congress leader was last month arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from his Jor Bagh residence in a sequence of events that were marked by high drama.
He was then questioned by the investigative agency for almost a fortnight at the CBI’s headquarters on Lodhi Road, before being sent to Tihar Jail, where he has spent over 20 days so far.
The ‘INX Media case’ is short-hand for the charges that the CBI and Enforcement Directorate has levied over the manner in which foreign investment clearance was given to the media company when Chidambaram was finance minister.
After being questioned by the investigative agency, special CBI judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar remanded the senior Congress leader to judicial custody on September 5, which was extended again by the CBI court until October 3.
In his bail plea before the Delhi high court, Chidambaram’s legal team argued that his arrest was illegal, an abuse of law and was done at the “behest of the Central government” which wanted to malign his “unimpeachable” reputation.
The former finance minister also repeated the primary argument that his counsel has been pushing over the last month – that mere apprehensions of investigation tampering should not be used to curtail an individual’s liberty, and that the government should show material evidence that Chidambaram’s status and position could be misused to do so.
In its response, the CBI, through the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, submitted that by giving bail to Chidambaram, it would set a very wrong precedent and go against the “zero-tolerance policy” regarding corruption.
Mehta also argued that the senior Congress leader was a major flight risk and that there was a real and imminent danger of witnesses being influenced.
In his verdict, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait however rejected the argument that Chidambaram might flee the country. However, the judge noted that being a member of parliament and an influential person, it cannot be ruled out “that he may influence witnesses”. Thus, the bail plea was rejected.