The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended till Wednesday protection from arrest granted to former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said it would hear tomorrow the arguments of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Chidambaram’s two petitions, including the challenge to remand orders issued by the trial court.
The apex court took on record that it will hear the case on merits.
“It is their case that they have all the evidence, and our case is that they did not put this information before him,” argued senior advocate Kapil Sibal.
Sibal, on behalf of Chidambaram, filed an application seeking direction to the ED to produce the transcripts of custodial interrogation of Chidambaram who is in CBI custody. He also sought transcripts of the questioning conducted on 19 December last year and 1 and 21 January this year in the case.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for Chidambaram, referred to the constitutional and legal provisions and said that fundamental right of citizens under Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) cannot be suspended.
Singhvi cited the triple test of anticipatory bail for his client. First, he is not a flight risk unless in the case of a terrorist. Second, he has been cooperating, and third, he cannot tamper with the evidence in an 11-year-old case, and the documents have been frozen.
“The allegations in the INX Media case against father and son are similar. Son has already got regular bail,” submitted Singhvi before the court.
Earlier during the day, Chidambaram’s lawyers also argued on the retrospective effect of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Singhvi had told the court that the offence allegedly dated back to 2007 but the PMLA provisions came into effect in 2009. Despite this, the ED had invoked these provisions against Chidambaram.
Singhvi contended that the main provisions of the law against Chidambaram became scheduled offences under PMLA only in 2009, which was a year after when the alleged FIPB approval was given in 2007-08. He told the court that the sections under which Chidambaram had been charged did not exist when the alleged transaction took place.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will commence his arguments on Wednesday.
The apex court had on Monday extended till Tuesday the protection from arrest given to Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case lodged by the ED.
Chidambaram was the Union minister for finance as also home during the UPA-I and UPA-II government from 2004 to 2014.
The CBI had registered an FIR on 15 May 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister.
Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case against him in 2017.