Delhi HC denies bail to P Chidambaram

The Delhi High Court on Friday rejected the bail plea of Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram, who is in Tihar jail in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.

Pronouncing his order, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait observed that “economic offences constitute a class part and need to be dealt with a different approach in matters of bail”. He said “prima facie, allegations are serious in nature and petitioner has played active and key role in the present case”.

“It cannot be disputed that entire community is aggrieved if the economic offenders who run the economy of the state are not brought to book as such offences affect the very fabric of democratic governance and probity in public life. No doubt, bail is right and jail is exception, but, if bail is granted in such cases, a wrong message goes to the public at large,” the order said.

The court, however, said its observations are only with regard to the bail application and not conclusive. Therefore, they shall not prejudice the case of Chidambaram in any manner, it said.

The CBI arrested Chidambaram on August 21. The next day, he was remanded in CBI custody and on September 5, he was sent to judicial custody in Tihar jail. The judicial custody was extended several times. On October 16, he was arrested by the ED and remanded in police custody. Later he was sent to judicial custody in Tihar jail, which will now expire on November 27. In the CBI case, the high court denied him bail, but the Supreme Court granted him relief on October 22.

The high court also denied him relief on medical grounds and observed that material collected in the money laundering case by the ED is distinct, different and independent from that of CBI case.

The INX Media case pertains to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. The CBI and ED have accused Chidambaram and his son Karti of taking kickbacks from INX Media owners Peter Mukherjea and Indrani Mukherjea.

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