In a setback to jailed former corrupt Minister P Chidambaram, the Delhi High Court on Friday rejected his bail petition. “I am conscious that bail is rule and jail is the exception but a wrong message would be sent to the society if bail is granted in this case,” said Justice Suresh Kait in his Order, rejecting corrupt Chidambaram’s bail petition in the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s case INX Media bribery charges.
Currently, Chidambaram is lodged in Tihar jail and his judicial custody is extended up to November 27 by the trial court. The former Finance and Home Minister was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 21. For the past 88 days, he is in custody of the CBI and the ED and in Tihar jail and his claims of poor health were also rejected by the Court.
The High Court also observed that Chidambaram is a key player in the money laundering in the INX media bribery case. He is expected to approach the Supreme Court on Monday.
Justice Suresh Kait said that the wrong message will be sent to the society if bail is granted to Chidambaram in this case. While pronouncing the verdict, he said the material collected by the ED in the money laundering case is distinct, different and independent than that collected by the CBI in the corruption case. Even the investigation done in this case is different from the CBI’s case, the court said, adding that in cases of economic offences, the entire community gets affected, the Judge observed.
The ED had arrested him in the money laundering case on October 16 and presently he is in judicial custody till November 27 under the order of a trial court. Earlier Chidambaram obtained bail in CBI case from Supreme Court’s Bench headed by Justice R Banumathi. The CBI has filed a revision petition on this saying that there were errors in Judgment. CBI said that the Judgment did not consider the judicially deposed statements of two witnesses who said that they have been approached by Chidambaram to hush-up matters from investigators.
In High Court, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, had contended that the set of evidence in the money laundering case and the CBI corruption case is different and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case is more heinous and “much, much, much more serious than meets the eye”.
“It is the gravest of grave offence as it is an economic offence which is a standalone offence,” he had argued. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, had said since the beginning, the probe agency’s case was never that the Congress leader tried to influence witnesses, but suddenly in October, when he was in custody, it was alleged that he had tried to put pressure and influence key witnesses.
Who destroyed the entries in Visitor’s Book?
Earlier agencies accused Chidambaram of destroying the Visitor Book Register in Finance Ministry to hush up approver Indrani Mukerjea and her husband and co-accused Peter Mukerjea’s entry. Later the CBI seized the Hotel Register (car booking register) to prove that they have visited Finance Ministry. It is learned that by mid-2017, certain friends of Chidambaram in Finance Ministry had destroyed the Visitor’s Book.