SC gives Chidambaram interim protection in INX Media case

New Delhi, Aug 23 ( IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest till August 26 to former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

"We are inclined to continue his interim protection in the Enforcement Directorate. He had interim protection from arrest before as well," a bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi said.

Chidambaram also challenged the trial court order awarding four-day CBI custody during the hearing of the anticipatory bail plea moved by him in two cases connected to INX media.

Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED case will be listed on Monday before the Supreme Court bench to examine the legality of handing his custody to the agencies concerned.

During the arguments, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that they have recovered digital evidence establishing e-mail exchanges in connection with money laundering and stashing away of illegitimate money.

"Prima-facie it is established that shell companies were created abroad by the people having close association with Chidambaram...these persons also executed will in the name of the granddaughter of Chidambaram. We need to investigate and confront him with the piece of information," Mehta said.

Mehta also pointed to the high probability of the will having been destroyed.

Pressing for custodial interrogation in the money laundering case, Mehta also told the court that investigations have revealed that 10 immovable and 17 bank accounts in foreign countries have direct links with Chidambaram.

At the end of the hearing, Mehta attempted to hand over a sealed envelope which he claimed contains crucial evidence to establish Chidambaram's culpability in the case.

The court, however, refused to accept it and listed both matters for hearing on Monday.

The Delhi High Court had, on August 20, dismissed the former Finance Minister's anticipatory bail pleas in both the CBI and the ED cases pertaining to the INX Media money laundering matter.

He moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking urgent hearing on his plea challenging the Delhi High Court order, which was not accepted by the apex court.

He was arrested by the CBI later on Wednesday night.

The ED and the CBI are probing how Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram managed to get Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance in 2007 when his father was the Finance Minister.

Karti was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI for allegedly accepting money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media. He was later granted bail.

His chartered accountant, S. Bhaskararaman, was also arrested and released on bail later.

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