In setback to Chidambaram plan to exit Tihar, court won’t tell ED to arrest him

0
44

Chidambaram, who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail, was seeking regular bail in the INX Media case. The Congress leader has been in judicial custody since September 5. He was arrested by CBI on August 21 and spent 14 days in the agency’s custody.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram’s request to let him surrender before the Enforcement Directorate and face questioning by the federal investigating agency in the INX Media case has been rejected by a Delhi court.

The Enforcement Directorate had opposed Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail application in the Supreme Court earlier this week to insist that the agency needed to arrest him. But it hasn’t made its move yet.

The unusual attempt by Chidambaram to force the Enforcement Directorate, or ED, to arrest him was first made on September 5, hours after the Supreme Court declined to protect him from arrest by the ED.

Chidambaram’s legal team apprehends that the ED is waiting for the 73-year-old Congress leader to be released on bail in the INX Media case investigated by the CBI before placing him under arrest a second time by the ED. The consecutive arrests, it believes, was designed to keep the politician behind bars for a longer duration than necessary.

The Congress leader was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI, in the INX Media case on August 21 and spent 14 days in the agency’s custody before being sent to Tihar Jail. at that time too, Chidambaram had offered to be arrested by the ED so that he could avoid going to Tihar jail. Chidambaram’s legal team had argued that the only reason the federal agency was determined to send him to judicial custody was to “humiliate” him.

The request to let him surrender before the ED was the former minister’s plan to exit Tihar jail.

Chidambaram had yesterday moved the Delhi High Court for regular bail in the CBI case. The high court and told the CBI to produce its status report in this case within seven days and listed the next hearing on September 23. That means Chidambaram, who was yesterday declined permission to get home-cooked food, would spend his 74th birthday behind bars.

The CBI case relates to allegations of irregularities in the grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving foreign investment to the tune of ₹305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. CBI registered an FIR in the case on May 15, 2017.

INX Media co-founders Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani Mukerjea have been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with Karti Chidambaram, P Chidambaram’s son, to secure clearance from FIPB for the foreign investment received by the company and evade punitive measures for not having the requisite approvals.

Indrani Mukerjea told CBI in March last year that a deal of $1 million had been struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure approval from the FIPB in favour of INX Media. She has turned an approver against Chidambaram in this case.