The Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected former finance minister P Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail in the INX Media case being investigated by Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.
‘Both the applications are dismissed,’ Justice Sunil Gaur of the high court declared. The court had reserved its order on January 25 this year. The senior Congress leader requested the court to give him three days interim protection from arrest to go in appeal. The court declined it.
Rejecting Chidambaram’s bail plea, the court cited two factors. It said that he has been ‘evasive’ in his replies to the court and pointed out the ‘gravity’ of the case.
‘It appears that the petitioner is the main accused who dictates the offence of this magnitude be committed,’ the court said.
The judge also said that Chidambaram’s case has no parity with the other accused who are out on bail because he was the finance minister when he gave the FDI clearances. The judge said Chidambaram ‘cannot be given pre-arrest bail simply because he is a sitting MP.’
The INX media case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to the media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 307 crore at a time P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance, the Enforcement Directorate lodged a money laundering case a year later.
Indrani Mukerjea and her husband Peter Mukherjea, who co-founded INX Media in 2007, had been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with Karti Chidambaram, whose father P Chidambaram was the then finance minister, to get foreign investments and evade punitive measures for not having the necessary approvals from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
In March 2018, Indrani Mukerjea told the CBI in a statement recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC that a deal of $1 million was struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure approval from the FIPB in favour of INX Media. Last month, a Delhi court had allowed Indrani Mukerjea, who is a prime accused in the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, to turn approver in the INX case.
In her application to turn approver, Mukherjea had prayed for pardon in the case in exchange of full and true disclosure.
Karti Chidambaram was arrested by CBI in February last year in connection with the INX media case. He was released on bail in March. The Enforcement Directorate has questioned Karti on several occasions in the INX Media case case. P Chidambaram was also questioned by the ED in January this year and on December 19 last year.
The ED has attached properties worth Rs 54 crore belonging to Karti Chidambaram in connection with the case. The agency also attached properties belonging to Indrani and Peter Mukerjea.