Chidambaram denies having 17 foreign bank accounts

Chidambaram denies having 17 foreign bank accounts

Seeks production of transcripts in SC

Chidambaram is already under the custodial interrogation of the CBI after his arrest on August 21 following the dismissal of his plea for anticipatory bail by the Delhi High Court. (PTI File Photo)

Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to tell the Enforcement Directorate, investigating money laundering charges against him, to produce the transcripts of his questionings undertaken by the agency three times.

Refuting allegations of having 17 foreign bank accounts, he, in an affidavit, contended that all such charges cannot be used to deny him anticipatory bail in the case pertaining to Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to the INX media group in 2007.

A bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna, which heard arguments on behalf of senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, extended the protection of arrest granted to Chidambaram on August 23, till Wednesday as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to put forth his arguments.

Mehta also submitted that he would deal with a fresh application filed by Chidambaram on the production of transcripts of his interrogations on December 19, 2018, and January 1 and January 21 this year in the case.

Chidambaram is already under the custodial interrogation of the CBI after his arrest on August 21 following the dismissal of his plea for anticipatory bail by the Delhi High Court.

During arguments, Sibal said the transcripts would show whether Chidambaram was evasive during his questioning. The ED cannot place documents in the court randomly and behind his back for seeking his custody. "They are just producing documents at random and saying this is part of the case diary," Sibal said.

In his argument, Singhvi, also representing Chidambaram, cited the infamous ADM Jabalpur judgement (emergency case) related to MISA and Article 21, to contend that the fundamental right to liberty cannot be suspended. Though the judgement was considered a bad law, it was said that ex-parte communication of sealed cover should not be relied upon to deny liberty.

He said an exalted status has been granted to fundamental rights under Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution which are non-derogable even during emergency and war.

Singhvi also contended that the offences with which Chidambaram has been charged were included in the Prevention of Money-laundering Act only in June 2009 whereas alleged offence dated back to May 2007. So provisions cannot apply retrospectively, he said.

“You are trying to paint as a kingpin when the alleges offences did not exist in the statute. So long as I am available, I will answer the questions as per my choice. Every question has been answered. Can any investigator say you must answer,” he asked.

He pointed out that Chidambaram has admitted of a foreign bank account of his son which had been opened after the RBI's permission. The counsel said the charges against the petitioner have been made to humiliate him. He said there were no chances of tampering with the evidence in the 11-year-old case.