Former finance minister P Chidambaram, who is in Tihar jail, knocked the doors of the Delhi High Court and a trial court on Thursday in connection with corruption and money laundering cases arising out of the INX Media scam.
Chidambaram, who will spend his 74th birthday on Monday in the prison, pleaded for bail in the corruption case in the high court and sought permission from the trial court to surrender in the money laundering case.
A battery of senior advocates including his party colleagues from Congress, Kapil Sibal, A M Singhvi, Vivek Tankha and Salman Khurshid appeared for Chidambaram in the high court before Justice Suresh Kait who asked the CBI to file a status report on his bail plea within a week and posted the matter for hearing on September 23.
Chidambaram withdrew from the high court his another plea challenging the trial court’s order remanding him to judicial custody till September 19, after the judge asked as to why he has filed two separate petitions.
The high court allowed his submission and said the petition is “dismissed as withdrawn”.
Hours after the high court proceedings, Sibal along few junior lawyers rushed to the special trial court at Rouse Avenue and argued that Chidambaram be allowed to surrender in the money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in which the Supreme Court has declined to give him relief against the high court order dismissing his anticipatory bail.
Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar reserved the order for tomorrow.
Chidambaram, who was the Union home minister and the finance minister during the UPA rule from 2004 to 2014, was arrested by the CBI on August 21 from his Jor Bagh residence.
The matter before the high court came for hearing at 11:15 am when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI, opposed the bail plea saying the case was at pre-charge sheet stage and the alleged corruption took place in 2007.
Mehta and central government’s standing counsel Amit Mahajan contended that during the investigation, it has emerged that Chidambaram used his official capacity for corrupt practices and received crores of rupees and FIPB approval was granted.
Sibal sought bail for the Congress leader saying the alleged incident is of 2007 and the FIR was lodged by the CBI in 2017 and the offences carry a maximum of seven years punishment.
The court rejected the oral prayer of Sibal that Chidambaram was old and he be allowed to have home-cooked food in jail and to meet his family members daily.
In the trial court, ED said Chidambaram’s arrest in the INX Media money laundering case was necessary and it will do so at an appropriate time.
Mehta told the court that since Chidambaram was already in the judicial custody in the CBI case, he was not in a position to tamper with the evidence.
Sibal contended that the ED’s submission is mala fide and intended to make him suffer.
He also told the court that Chidambaram can surrender whenever he wants to as it is his right to do so.
The high court on August 20 had dismissed Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail plea in both CBI and ED cases.
After his arrest by the CBI on August 21, he was sent to 15-day CBI custody, ordered by the special court in five spells.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister.
Thereafter, the Enforcement Directorate lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.