New Delhi: Federal investigating agency, the Enforcement Directorate has been under constant attack by the legal team of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram. The Enforcement Directorate that intends to arrest him in the INX Media money laundering case has been challenged by senior lawyer Abhishek Singhvi, who is representing Chidambaram along with Kapil Sibal.
Singhvi, on Tuesday, told the Supreme Court that the ED had tripped up by alleging Chidambaram for a case that took place in 2007-2008 under provisions of the law that were apprised as an offence only in 2009.
“The Sections charged in the FIR were declared offences only in June 2009 through notification of the amendment of the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, one year after the alleged acts took place,” Singhvi told a bench led by Justice R Banumathi.
Referring to the Delhi High Court order that rejected the request for pre-arrest bail of Chidambaram, Singhvi, who is also a senior Congress leader, said, “A person is being “painted as a kingpin” of an alleged offence which did not exist as an offence at the time it was committed.” The order in which the judge had termed Chidambaram the kingpin of the scandal was criticized strongly by the former minister’s team.
Chidambaram is accused by the ED for creating “layers of money laundering web in a manner which is sufficient to make it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track the money trail of proceeds of crime”. In 2007, there were irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in the clearance given for foreign investment to the INX Media group. Chidambaram was the finance minister during this period.
A First Information Report was registered by the CBI against Chidambaram on 15 May 2017, alleging irregularities to the tune of Rs 350 crore in the clearance that had been awarded. Later, a money-laundering case was filed by the ED.
Singhvi argued that the offences invoked by the ED were wrong since money laundering wasn’t a part of the law when the crime is alleged to have taken place.
An application has been filed by Chidambaram’s legal team to ask the judges to order the ED to produce the transcript of the former minister’s questioning that was held in December 2018 and January 2019.
“The agency cannot randomly place documents in the court and “behind the back” to seek Chidambaram’s custody,” Kapil Sibal argued.
Singhvi, questioning the credit of the high court order on pre-arrest bail, emphasized that the judge had rejected the bail as the response of the Congress biggie had been elusive for the gravity of the offence.
The judge had a distorted idea of a suspect being elusive, said Singhvi, who also added that a person being investigated by the agencies is “not obliged to give the answers the agencies want to hear”. Giving an answer to the questions put to him is sufficient enough, according to the lawyer.