The Delhi High Court (HC) on Tuesday denied anticipatory bail and protection from immediate arrest to former finance minister P Chidambaram in a case related to alleged discrepancies in granting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearances to the INX Media group.
Late in the evening, officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided Chidambaram’s residence in Jor Bagh here, but the Congress leader was not present. Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials, too, came searching for him.
After the high court denied relief to Chidambaram, he met Congress leaders and senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Salman Khurshid in the Supreme Court to deliberate on the further course of action. Based on the directions of a Supreme Court official, the former finance minister is likely to seek an urgent hearing from the Supreme Court in the matter on Wednesday.
Following the development, Chidambaram stayed away from the media, even as the Congress called the probe agencies’ action against him a “political vendetta”.
Chidambaram and his son Karti are being probed by the CBI and the ED for alleged violations of FIPB norms during his tenure as finance minister.
Terming the INX media case involving Chidambaram a classic "case of money laundering", the single-judge Bench of Justice Sunil Gaur said that granting bail in such cases would send a wrong message to society.
The HC noted that as the senior Congress leader was evasive in his replies to the probe agencies, custodial interrogation was required for an effective investigation in the matter.
The judge said, "Facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner is the kingpin, that is, the key conspirator in this case," adding, "It cannot be forgotten that the petitioner was the Finance Minister at the relevant time and he had given FDI clearances to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 Crore. Simply because he is a MP would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to him”.