After multi-crore scam accused P Chidambaram challenged the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to submit ‘even one piece of evidence’ linking him to the INX Media case, the investigating agency on Thursday filed a detailed investigation report consisting details of 12 bank accounts and purchase of 12 properties in 16 countries, allegedly purchased from proceeds of crime.
According to a report by Times Of India, the Enforcement Directorate submitted the evidence before the Supreme court in a sealed envelope. Appearing before the SC bench of Justices R Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, the ED opposed granting bail to P Chidambaram stating that accused was too powerful and influential to be released on bail.
Opposing the bail, the ED added that the Chidambaram was not just a ‘bystander’ during the alleged crimes. It said economic offences are grave offences that affect society, country and national economy and shake the confidence of the common man in the entire system when people in office indulge in corrupt activities. It argued that such offences are committed with deliberation and not on the heat of the moment.
“In this case, a web of shell companies were set up in India and abroad by people who were acting as his agents. He was not just a bystander when the offence was being committed,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended.
Reportedly, Solicitor General further added Former finance minister P Chidambaram has substantial control over crucial witnesses who are afraid to testify against him. Tushar Mehta told the top court that one key witness refused to appear for face-to-face with Chidambaram “because he is too powerful”. Two other witnesses did not even turn up.
“It shows the fear which he evokes in the witnesses,” said Tushar Mehta, the country’s second-most senior law officer.
Countering the claims of the ED, Chidambaram’s counsel represented by Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that the accused is not a hardened criminal and should not be treated as “Ranga or Billa”. Ranga and Billa are the two men who had brutally killed two teenagers in Delhi in 1978. They were executed in 1982.
However, Tushar Mehta argued that economic crimes were serious offences. “The argument that he should be granted bail because he has not committed an offence like Ranga-Billa does not hold good,” he said.
Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram is currently under the custody of the Enforcement Directorate in the INX Media case, was initially arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 21. On October 16, Chidambaram was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate and sent to judicial custody till October 30. On November 13 his judicial custody was extended till November 27.
On Wednesday, the Special CBI Court yet again issued an order extending the judicial custody of the former Union Finance minister P Chidambaram for granting FIPB approvals to the INX Media company while serving as a minister in the cabinet in the UPA era.
P Chidambaram is accused in the INX Media scam which involves charges of bribery and lobbying in granting foreign investments worth over Rs 300 crores to INX Media. INX Media was later known as NewsX, it was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukherjee of the sensational Sheena Bora murder case. Chidambaram is accused of misusing his power as the finance minister to grant INX Media an FIPB clearance.