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Wednesday 29 January 2020

INX Media case witnesses turn hostile: Fear of Chidambaram?

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta today told the Supreme Court that the witnesses in the INX Media case were scared of testifying against the UPA-era minister

Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against P Chidambaram who has spent 100 days in custody in the INX Media case, told the Supreme Court today that a witness who had come face to face with the former home and finance minister refused to testify “because he is too powerful”. Two other witnesses have retreated, too. “This shows that the witnesses are scared,” said Mehta.

The Supreme Court today reserved its order on the regular bail application filed by former finance minister P Chidambaram who had challenged his arrest by the ED in the INX Media money laundering case. The apex court bench of Justices R Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy directed the court registry to keep in safe custody all documents submitted by the ED in sealed covers.

On Wednesday, a special court had extended judicial custody for former finance minister P Chidambaram till 11 December. Chidambaram had expressed his displeasure at his bail application being rejected despite the court rejecting the ED’s arguments.

Chidambaram had told a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that the high court had rejected his bail plea for the apprehension of tampering with evidence and fearing his escape. His lawyer Kapil Sibal had said that the court had dismissed Chidambaram‘s bail plea as the allegations were presumed to be serious.

Sibal had told Justice R Banumati, who was heading the bench, on Wednesday that if the court’s plea of ​​serious charges were to be accepted, “we will never get bail”. Sibal also said that keeping Chidambaram in jail points at possible stress that the high court was working under. The lawyer said this was sending a wrong message to society.

Arguing for Chidambaram, Sibal said that “It seems as if I Ranga-Billa. If I am not released on bail, it will give a wrong message to this country.”

Ranga and Billa were two dangerous criminals from Bombay who had come to Delhi soon after their release from Arthur Road Jail. They kidnapped two teenage siblings in August 1978, raped the girl and brutally killed her and her brother (Geeta and Sanjay Chopra). They were children of an Indian Navy captain.

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