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Sunday 26 January 2020

Chidambaram gets no immediate respite from Supreme Court

Since Chidambaram wasn't at his residence, late at night, the CBI pasted a notice on the wall outside P. Chidambaram’s house

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the plea of senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram, accused of seeking a bribe to secure foreign direct investment into INX Media, will be put before the CJI to consider for urgent listing. The urgent listing will not be possible, however, say sources, because of prior commitments of the apex court such as daily hearing for the Ayodhya case. Chidambaram’s plea challenges the Delhi High Court order dismissing his petition for pre-arrest bail in the INX media case.

Justice NV Ramana told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, that the case will be put before CJI Ranjan Gogoi. “I am sending it to the Chief Justice of India. He will pass orders,” the bench told Sibal. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED and CBI, told the bench that it is a case of money laundering of “monumental magnitude”.

At the outset, Sibal told the apex court that Chidambaram’s plea was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on Tuesday. He said Chidambaram was granted protection from arrest for more than a year in INX cases lodged by the CBI and ED. Sibal said the high court had refused to grant any protection from arrest to Chidambaram to enable him to approach the apex court. “The matter should be heard. I (Chidamabaram) should not be arrested in the meanwhile,” Sibal said.

Sibal told the court that at 2 AM on Wednesday, the probe agencies pasted a notice on Chidambaram’s house that he had to appear before them within two hours. When Sibal said they have got their petition numbered from the Registry, Justice Ramana said, “You finish all formalities”.

In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) lodged a money laundering case in this regard. After the Delhi High Court refused to give any relief to Chidambaram, teams of the CBI and the ED reached the Jorbagh residence of former Union Minister P. Chidambaram on 21 August to arrest him. Since he wasn’t at his residence, late at night, the CBI pasted a notice on the wall outside P. Chidambaram’s house, asking him to appear before the probe team within two hours of the receipt of summons.

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