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INX Media case: Court allows ED to quiz Chidambaram, arrest him if required

Former finance minister also moves SC challenging his arrest by CBI

Aashish Aryan  |  New Delhi 

P Chidambaram, INX Media case

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Tuesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to go to Tihar jail and interrogate P Chidambaram, and arrest him if required. The former finance minister is currently lodged in Tihar jail in judicial custody of the CBI in a case related to alleged discrepancies in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approvals for INX Media.

Though the ED wanted to probe Chidambaram in some space available in the Rouse Avenue court itself, the court turned down that plea, saying “it’s not in the dignity of this person that you interrogate and arrest him here in public view”. The court also said ED’s demand to take the former Union minister in remand was also premature as he had not yet been arrested by it.

Earlier in the day, the former Union minister also moved the Supreme Court (SC) seeking bail from his arrest by the CBI. In his plea challenging his arrest by the probe agency, Chidambaram said the CBI wants to keep him in custody to humiliate him. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for him in the SC, told the apex court that there are no allegations of financial loss or siphoning of funds.

Challenging the Delhi High Court’s (HC’s) September 30 judgment which denied him bail on the grounds he could possibly influence witnesses, Chidambaram on Tuesday told the apex court that his continued incarceration was in the “form of punishment” and the liberty of an individual could not be denied on the basis of “anonymous and unverified allegations”.

In its order, the HC had also said Chidambaram had been a strong finance minister, and a senior advocate, and “the fact that he will not influence the witnesses directly or indirectly, cannot be ruled out in view of the above facts. Moreover, the investigation is at an advance stage. Therefore, this court is not inclined to grant bail”.

The CBI, on the other hand, had challenged the HC’s observations that Chidambaram was neither a flight risk nor could he possibly tamper with the evidence as “documents relating to the present case were in the custody of the prosecuting agency, the Government of India and the court”.

First Published: Tue, October 15 2019. 20:14 IST