New Delhi: In a major development, the Delhi High Court on Friday denied bail to former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case and said the allegations brought against the former Congress leader are serious in nature.
“Allegations against P Chidambaram are serious in nature and he has played an active role. No doubt bail is right, but if granted in such cases, it is against the interest of the public at large,” the court observed.
The development comes as Justice Suresh Kait had on November 8 reserved the order on the bail petition after hearing the arguments of counsel for Chidambaram and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
During the last hearing, the Congress leader had sought bail saying as the evidence is documentary and in the custody of probe agencies, he cannot tamper them, but the ED had opposed his plea on the ground that he has tried to influence and threaten witnesses.
Representing the ED, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the court that the set of evidence in the money laundering case and the CBI corruption case is different and the PMLA case is more heinous and “much, much, much more serious than it meets the eyes”.
“It is the gravest of grave offense as it is an economic offense which is a standalone offense,” he had argued.
Appearing for Chidambaram, senior advocate Kapil Sibal had said since the beginning, the probe agency’s case was never that the Congress leader tried to influence witnesses.
At the moment, Chidambaram is lodged in Tihar Jail and is under the judicial custody of the ED in the money-laundering case. The ED had arrested Chidambaram on October 16 and then got his custody from the court. After that, he was sent to judicial custody in Tihar jail till November 13.
Prior to this, he was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media case and was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the CBI case on October 22.
The case was registered by the CBI on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister.