PC seeks bail; judicial custody extended till Oct 17

Former finance minister P Chidambaram. (PTI photo)

Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday approached the Supreme Court for bail in the INX Media case, saying that he had already spent over 40 days in jail and there was no chance of him tampering with the evidences, which were documentary in nature.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter on behalf of the senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP before the court for urgent hearing on Friday.

A bench presided over Justice N V Ramana asked the officials to take the mentioning memo. The court said listing of the case would be decided by the CJI.

Meanwhile, a Delhi court extended his judicial custody till October 17. The court allowed his plea to have home food during stay in jail.

In a special leave petition before the top court, Chidambaram challenged validity of the Delhi High Court's order of September 30 that dismissed his bail petition on various ground including that he might influence witnesses in the case registered by the CBI on May 15, 2017, for irregularities in the FIPB clearance to the media group in 2007.

Chidambaram, arrested on August 21 by the CBI from his Jor Bagh residence here, submitted that he was 74 years old and his health was frail. “He has been kept in a cell and given food that he is not accustomed to. He has already lost 4 kgs weight in the period of judicial custody,” his plea stated.

In his petition, he said the the High Court was not justified in rendering findings on merits of the case based on information and material provided in a ‘sealed cover’ by the CBI, including that two material witnesses were approached not to disclose anything against him.

Maintaining that there was no illegality to the FIPB clearance, he said, it was a collective decision of six secretaries, assisted by several officers and the Department of Economic Affairs respectively. “Therefore, it is preposterous to allege that any person, such as he or his son, could have influenced any official of the FIPB, including all six senior Secretaries to the Government of India,” he said.

Asserting that his antecedents were impeccable, he said there was no possibility of him fleeing from justice. He said if all co-accused his son, Karti, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea had already been granted bail in the case, it was “manifestly unjust and illegal” to deny him the same relief.

He contended the single judge of the HC had erroneously dealt with the merits of the case but failed to deal with his argument that his arrest was illegal.

“There is not even an iota of evidence that the petitioner has any relation with the said companies or has received any money or illegal gratification,” he said, denying the finding that Indrani and Peter had met him and paid some ‘illegal gratification’.

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