The Delhi High Court on Monday refused bail to former finance minister P Chidambaram in a case related to alleged discrepancies in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approvals for INX Media. Chidambaram had been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) nearly a month ago.
In its order on Monday, a single judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said that though the former union minister was not a flight risk and that he could not possibly tamper any evidence related to the case since “documents relating to the present case is in the custody of the prosecuting agency, government of India and the Court”, he could not be granted bail as he could possibly influence witnesses.
Stating that Chidambaram had been a strong finance minister, and a senior advocate, the court said that “the fact that he will not influence the witnesses directly or indirectly, cannot be ruled out in view of above facts. Moreover, the investigation is at advance stage, therefore, this Court is not inclined to grant bail”.
INX Media, which was neither a joint-venture company nor a wholly owned subsidiary or holding company of a foreign company in India, should have needed the prior approval for increased investment and not got a post-facto approval as was done, the court noted.
The clarification given by Sidhushree Khullar, the then additional Secretary in the department of economic affairs of the finance ministry, that FIPB’s “approval was not for a specific amount in terms of money but for a specific number of shares, both equity and non-cumulative redeemable preference shares” was also without jurisdiction and had no relevance to the case, the single-Judge Bench said in its order.
Raising question on the foreign investments brought about the INX Media, the high court also said that the company sought to “surreptitiously” justify them by placing reliance on certain government directives which would not apply in this case.
“It cannot be disputed that if case is proved against the petitioner, the offence is on the Stating that Chidambaram had been a strong finance minister, and a senior advocate, the court said that ‘the fact that he will not influence the witnesses directly or indirectly, cannot be ruled out in view of above facts. Moreover, the investigation is at advance stage, therefore, this Court is not inclined to grant bail”