SC rejects anticipatory bail, Chidambaram set to go to Tihar

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New Delhi, September 5: With the Supreme Court refusing to grant him protection Thursday, arrest by the Enforcement Directorate is imminent now for Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram over corruption allegations in the INX Media case.

“Anticipatory bail has to be exercised sparingly in cases of economic offences. Considering the facts and circumstances, this is not a fit case to grant anticipatory bail,” the Supreme Court said. The orders have proved to be a huge blow to Chidambaram, who has already spent 15 days in CBI custody.

The court said the investigating agency has to be given sufficient freedom to conduct its probe, and the grant of anticipatory bail at this stage would “frustrate” the ongoing investigation.

The Enforcement Directorate has accused Chidambaram of money-laundering in the case involving INX Media, which is being investigated by the CBI.

The CBI has accused Chidambaram of misusing his position as Finance Minister in 2007 while facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds in INX Media at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram.

The allegations against Mr Chidambaram and his son are based on the information from INX Media co-founders Peter Mukerjea and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently jailed in Mumbai in connection with the murder of Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.

Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role in securing the foreign funds, was arrested in 2018 and released after 23 days.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had extended Chidambaram’s CBI custody for two days after his lawyer said the 74-year-old leader should not be sent to Tihar jail, where arrested persons are taken when they do not get bail after police custody expires.

The court allowed Mr Chidambaram to withdraw his plea against the non-bailable warrant and remand orders of the trial court in the INX Media case.

The Rs. 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal involves a clearance of $800 million foreign investment to the company in 2006, allegedly in exchange of kickbacks. While the approval was expected to come from a committee headed by the Prime Minister, it came illegally from the finance ministry, the CBI said.