The Delhi High Court on Monday rejected the bail application filed by former finance minister P Chidambaram’s bail petition in the INX Media case. Chidambaram, 74, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation 40 days ago from his Jor Bagh house in national capital Delhi in the INX Media case. After being grilled by the CBI for nearly a fortnight, he was sent to Tihar Jail where he has been lodged for the last 25 days.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who had argued against Chidambaram’s release, had described the former finance minister as a flight risk. Mehta had reasoned that Chidambaram could flee the country because he was accused of a serious offence, figured that he would be convicted and had the money to indefinitely live in another country.
In his verdict, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait didn’t accept this argument. He said there was no evidence that Chidambaram was a flight risk or had tampered with any evidence. But the Congress leader, Justice Kait observed, was a member of parliament and an influential person. “The investigation is at an advanced stage and hence, it cannot be ruled out that he may influence witnesses,” the judge said.
The CBI case relates to charges of irregularities in the grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas investment to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Mehta, who represented the CBI in proceedings before the high court’s Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, had contended that there was “enough evidence” to show that INX Media group co-founders Indrani and Peter Mukerjea met Chidambaram back in 2007-08 and that the former minister had asked them to take care of the business interests of his son.
This charge, which is at the centre of the CBI case against Chidambaram, had been rebutted by Congress leader Kapil Sibal who led Chidambaram’s defence in the high court. Sibal told the court last week that Chidambaram had never even met Indrani Mukherjea.
The CBI, however, contended that it has access to a large number of emails exchanged between representatives of INX Media group and firms linked to Karti Chidambaram.
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