The CBI Special Court on Tuesday allowed the application moved by Enforcement Directorate (ED) which actually sought arrest of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in alleged money laundering in INX Media Case but only after modifying it into an application for interrogation.
"ED can seek permission to interrogate the accused, and then if grounds specified in section 19 of PMLA, are made out, arrest the accused. Accordingly application of arrest of accused is being treated as an application for interrogation of accused in ECIR..... and is accordingly allowed," the court said in its order.
This means that ED will first interrogate Chidambaram on Wednesday (October 16) in Tihar Jail where he is lodged in judicial custody after his arrest by CBI in INX Media case, and if after interrogation ED finds that grounds to arrest under Prevention of Money Laundering Act are made out, Chidambaram may be arrested on Wednesday itself. In that case, he is supposed to be produced before the CBI Special Court on Thursday when ED would plead for his ustody.
The CBI special court has directed that Chidambaram may be interrogated by investigating officer in the Central Jail, Tihar at 8:30 am on Wednesday. Court directed that ED officers namely Mahesh Gupta, Sandeep Thapliyal, Dainik Jain shall be permitted by the jail Superintendent to visit and interrogate Chidambaram. Court also directed that necessary arrangements be made and a secure place be provided to interrogate the former union minister.
On Monday, ED had moved two applications for arrest and custodial interrogation of Chidambaram. During the arguments on Monday, Kapil Sibbal, who was appearing for Chidambaram argued that the corruption case by CBI and the money laundering case by ED are the part of same transaction, so the ED can not arrest him and seek his custody. He further argued on Chidambaram’s production in the court on Monday on ED's plea while he is in judicial custody, saying this was not as per law.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for ED in the case, argued that it is not the part of same transaction. Though the root of the offence may be the predicate offence, money laundering is a different and distinct offence. He further argued that Prevention of Money Laundering Act provides for separate power to arrest which is different from the provisions of CrPC.
On October 11, the ED had approached the CBI special court seeking production warrant for Chidambaram in money laundering case and the same was issued by the CBI Special Court after which he was produced in the court on Monday.