NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media alleged money laundering case. The order was passed by a bench headed by Justice R Banumathi, which had on November 28 reserved its judgement on the appeal filed by Chidambaram in the case. Chidambaram had challenged the November 15 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him bail in the case.
Following the apex court order, Chidambaram, who has been in jail for nearly 107 days, will now be released from Delhi's Tihar Central Jail.
The bench, while passing its order, directed Chidambaram to furnish a bail bond of Rs 2 lakhs along with 2 sureties of the same amount. The top court also said that Chidambaram can not travel abroad without its permission.
During the arguments in the case earlier, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had claimed in the apex court that the 74-year-old former finance minister continues to wield "substantial influence" on crucial witnesses in the case even from the custody, while he said that the agency cannot "destroy" his career and reputation by making baseless allegations.
Opposing his bail plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, maintained that economic offences like money laundering are grave in nature as they not only affect the nation's economy but also shake people's faith in the system, especially when it is committed by people in power.
The Solicitor General argued before an SC bench headed by Justice R Banumathi that economic offences are grave in nature as they not only affect the economy of the country but also jolt the faith of people in the system.
Mehta told the SC bench that the ED has succeeded in identifying 12 bank accounts which were used by Chidambaram to deposit the proceeds of crime. He added that during the probe the ED has also unearthed details of 12 properties which were purchased in several foreign countries.
Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, told the SC that the senior Congress leader has been kept in jail “unfairly” for more than 100 days just because he is the father of Karti, who is alleged to be a key accused in the case. Sibal told the court that the ED has no evidence linking Chidambaram with the case.
Chidambaram was first arrested on August 21 by CBI in the INX Media corruption case but he granted bail on October 22 by the apex court. He was arrested by the ED on October 16 in the money laundering case related to INX Media case.
(With Agency inputs)