The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted conditional bail to senior Congress leader P Chidambaram in the INX Media case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The Congress leader will have to produce a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh with surety of the same amount to secure his release from the police custody. The court has also asked him not to comment about the case to the media, or try to influence the investigation in any way. He will also need to take prior permission before traveling abroad.
The apex court was hearing the former finance minister’s appeal against a previous Delhi High Court order which had dismissed his bail petition on the grounds that Chidambaram may try to influence witnesses in the case, and use his influence to deter investigation.
The Delhi High Court had, on 15 November, dismissed his bail plea observing that prima facie allegations against him were serious in nature and he played an “active and key role” in the offense.
However, a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, set aside that order granting bail to the 74-year-old former Union finance minister, who has been in custody for 105 days since 21 August when he was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media corruption case. The Enforcement Directorate had arrested him on 16 October in the money-laundering case.
The top court had reserved the order on the petition filed by Chidambaram on 28 November.
Chidambaram sought bail in a case pertaining to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during his tenure as the finance minister.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a corruption case in this regard in May, 2017. Later that year, the ED also lodged a money laundering case.
The Congress leader was first arrested by the CBI on 21 August in the INX Media corruption case, but was granted bail by the Supreme Court two months later. He was arrested by the ED in the money laundering case on 16 October.