Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX Media case probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. This is the first bit of good news for the 74-year-old Congress leader since his arrest by the CBI 61 days ago on August 21. But it does not, however, mean that the 74-year-old Congress politician can walk out of jail right away. He is also under arrest in a related case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and is being grilled by officials of the federal agency mandated to probe money laundering. Chidambaram was last remanded in ED custody till October 24.
A bench led by Justice R Banumathi, which had heard Chidambaram’s appeal against the rejection of bail by the high court on 30 September, has ordered that the former home and finance minister should produce a bail bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties. He will also have to deposit his passport with the special court if not already done so far.
The top court’s ruling on his appeal sets aside the high court verdict that had taken a view that as a former minister, Chidambaram could influence witnesses in the case.
Justice R Banumathi said Chidambaram could be released by the authorities if he is not arrested in any other case. The former minister is in custody of the Enforcement Directorate that had rushed to arrest him earlier this month, around the same time that his bail appeal in the INX Media case was to come up for hearing in the top court.
The case relates to irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to the INX Media group for receiving Rs 305 crore overseas funds. Chidambaram was the finance minister at that time.
The CBI chargesheet has alleged that P Chidambaram had met INX Media co-founders Indrani Mukerjea and Pratim (Peter) Mukerjea at his office at North Block sometime in April/May 2007. At this meeting, the CBI says , the senior Congress leader asked them to pay “illegal gratification in the form of overseas pay-offs… [and] demanded that business interest(s) of his son should be taken care of“. Chidambaram has rebutted the charge, insisting that this meeting hadn’t taken place.
Source from HT media