Delhi HC denies Chidambaram’s bail plea, says he may influence witnesses

NEW DELHI: Former finance minister P Chidambaram will remain in jail for now after the Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed his bail plea, saying it could not rule out the possibility that he may influence witnesses once out.

Justice Suresh Kait relied on a “sealed cover” input by the CBI which said two accused in the INX Media corruption case were asked not to disclose any information against Chidambaram and son Karti.

The HC said even though Chidambaram was not a “flight risk” and there was no chance of him tampering with evidence, “the fact that he will not influence witnesses directly or indirectly cannot be ruled out in view of above facts”.

Justice Kait said investigation in the case was at an advanced stage and rejected the bail petition but not before making some strong observations on economic offenders.

“A murder may be committed in the heat of the moment, upon being aroused. However, an economic offence is committed with cool calculation and deliberate design with an eye on personal profit regardless of the consequence to the community,” the court said, adding, “Economic offences constitute a class apart and a class by itself, as it cuts the very root of probity and purity of public administration and results in eroding the public confidence reposed on the government elected by it.”

Interestingly, when Justice Kait began reading out the judgment, hopes of Chidambaram’s supporters and legal team rose, as the court acknowledged how he had been a “strong finance minister and home minister and presently, member of Indian Parliament”.

The HC noted that the senior politician was a “respectable member of the Bar Association of Supreme Court of India, has long standing in legal profession as a senior advocate. He has deep roots in Indian society and some connections abroad”.

It listed three parameters on which the court evaluated if the former minister deserved bail and on two of these, concluded in favour of the accused.

The bench refused to accept the CBI’s claim that Chidambaram was a “flight risk” and said his presence in India could be secured by putting conditions, including surrender of passport, a lookout notice and the accused not being allowed to leave the country without the permission of the court (even via Nepal or Bhutan).

On the CBI’s apprehension that he may tamper with evidence if released, the HC underlined that documents relating to the case remained in the custody of the agency, the government and the court. “The petitioner is not in power, except he is a member of Parliament. Therefore, in my considered view, there is no chance of Chidambaram tampering with evidence,” the judge said.

Chidambaram, 74, has been in custody since his arrest by the CBI on August 21.

In his 47-page order, Justice Kait dwelt upon the specific allegations against Chidambaram, noting that from the material placed before him by the CBI, it seemed that FIPB Unit prepared a proposal for FDI of Rs 4.62 crore, about 46.21% of the equity, and approval was granted to INX Media but instead of Rs 4.62 crore, it brought in FDI of Rs 403 crore without any approval.

The court said as per documents filed by the CBI in a sealed cover, it was found during investigation that INX Media’s former promoters Indrani and Peter Mukerjea had met Chidambaram even before the application was filed before the FIPB Unit.

Source: The Times of India


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