- P Chidambaram's appeal for anticipatory bail rejected by Delhi court
- INX Media case involves alleged kickbacks received by his son
- Allegations that he helped get clearance for INX Media for foreign funds
Former Union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram's request for anticipatory bail was rejected by the Delhi High Court today, opening up the possibility of his arrest in the INX Media case. The court said bail cannot be granted just because Mr Chidambaram is a parliamentarian. "Facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner is the kingpin, that is, the key conspirator in this case," the judge said.
Mr Chidambaram's legal team, led by Kapil Sibal, is challenging the order in the Supreme Court, sources said. They are expected to request for an early hearing. A six-member team from the Central Bureau of Investigation visited his Delhi home this evening, but the former minister was not in.
Mr Chidambaram has been questioned several times in the case, which involves alleged kickbacks received by his son Karti Chidambaram in exchange for allowing INX Media, a television company, to receive foreign funds to the tune of Rs. 305 crore in 2007. At the time, Mr Chidambaram was the finance minister in the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh. Investigative agencies alleged that he was instrumental in providing government clearance to INX Media to receive the funds.
The former minister has denied any irregularities in the matter, saying he is being targeted by the BJP-led Central government for political reasons.
"It is preposterous to say the prosecution of Chidambaram is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta. It is a classic case of money laundering," said Justice Sunil Gaur, who was hearing the case. "This is an economic offence and has to be dealt with iron hands... The hands of investigating agencies cannot be tied up in such a massive economic offence," he added.
The court said the "magnitude and enormity" of material produced by the investigating agencies "dis-entitles him from any pre-arrest bail". The judge petitioner, he added, has been "evasive in his replies and has not cooperated with the investigations".
Karti Chidambaram -- who is also being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI -- has been accused of getting the government clearance for INX Media with his father's influence. Last year, he was arrested in the case and remained in custody for 23 days.
The Chidambarams were named in the case by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who owned INX Media at the time. The two are currently in jail, accused of being involved in the murder of Indrani Mukerjea's daughter Sheena Bora.