With the trial court permitting the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to interrogate and arrest if necessary, it is almost certain that the agency is all set to arrest former Finance and Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday morning at around 8:30 AM in the INX Media bribery case. This development has made Chidambaram’s bail petition in the Supreme Court in CBI’s case made infructuous, leading to more days of custody in prison.
The trial Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar on Tuesday evening passed orders allowing the ED to interrogate Chidambaram in Tihar jail on Wednesday and arrest him if necessary. The court said that three ED officials can interrogate Chidambaram on Wednesday after 8:30 AM and asked the jail superintendent to make arrangements in this regard.
The former Finance Minister’s judicial custody in the INX Media corruption case, which was filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), ends on October 17. Since his arrest on August 21, he has till Tuesday spent 54 days in custody – both of the CBI as well as judicial – in nine spells.
After the court passed the order, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Special Public Prosecutor Amit Mahajan, appearing for the ED, sought permission to question Chidambaram, 74, in some space available in the Rouse Avenue court premises. The court, however, said: “It’s not in the dignity of this person that you interrogate and arrest him here in public view.” The Court also rejected Chidamabram’s petition against the production warrant.
Chidambaram on Tuesday sought bail from the Supreme Court in the INX Media corruption case saying that the CBI wants to keep him in custody to humiliate him. The court will hear on Wednesday the arguments of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI. The agency reiterated that Chidambaram should not be given bail citing his attempts to meet two crucial witnesses. Justice R Banumathi-headed Bench will resume hearing on this petition on Wednesday morning and ED is expected to record an arrest in the early morning.
After the trial court permitted ED to arrest, Chidambaram’s bail petition in the apex court has lost steam. The ED will get a maximum of 15 days of custody and then to judicial custody for further days in Tihar prison pending bail in the ED’s case.