Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram today accused the Enforcement Directorate of leaking its document on charges against him to the media and blindsiding him with the allegations. Mr Chidambaram also alleged that the Enforcement Directorate's note was "copy-pasted" by the Delhi High Court, which denied him anticipatory bail last week, calling him the "kingpin".
Monday's hearing remained inconclusive and it will continue today. The Supreme Court said the protection granted from arrest to Mr Chidambaram will also remain till today (Tuesday).
The Enforcement Directorate is investigating allegations of money-laundering against Mr Chidambaram in connection with the INX Media case.
Representing Mr Chidambaram, his Congress colleague Kapil Sibal, a senior lawyer, said the High Court had simply accepted documents handed by the Enforcement Directorate and, clubbing them with the CBI case, denied Mr Chidambaram protection from arrest.
"Paragraphs in the High Court judgement were a verbatim copy of the CBI/ Enforcement Directorate note, comma by comma, full stop by full stop, word by word, sentence by sentence, the chart. Their note become findings of the court. Where is the application of mind by the judge?" said Mr Sibal.
The Enforcement Directorate has submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court that alleges that Mr Chidambaram, along with his "close confidants and co-conspirators (names withheld by the agency) created a web of shell companies in India and abroad for laundering proceeds of crime".
Some of this money, the Enforcement Directorate alleges, is from the alleged INX Media deal. Mr Chidambaram is accused of facilitating, as the country's Finance Minister, foreign investment in media company INX Media in 2007 at his son Karti's instance.
The Enforcement Directorate, denying Mr Chidambaram's allegation of leaking the details, said in the Supreme Court: "We didn't leak it. He is making it political. We have given it to the petitioner (Chidambaram)."
The agency said it was Mr Chidambaram's lawyers who were arguing their case on TV.
None of the allegations in the ED document were ever put up before Mr Chidambaram, his lawyer Kapil Sibal said, either by the CBI or ED. "The CBI asked Chidambaram whether he has a Twitter account. These sort of questions were asked," Mr Sibal said.
The ED, which is arguing against Mr Chidambaram's request for protection from arrest, says it has substantial evidence to support its claims and "only custodial interrogation" can unravel the truth.
The Directorate says in its court affidavit that it has evidence that those operating the shell companies are in touch with Mr Chidambaram. Money was illegally deposited in companies proxy-owned by the former Union Minister, the agency alleges.
It says 17 benami - or proxy - foreign bank accounts and 10 expensive properties were bought in India and abroad from the proceeds.
The Enforcement Directorate accuses Mr Chidambaram of not cooperating and giving evasive replies during his questioning on December 19, January 1 and January 21. "Chidambaram is an influential person and made changes in shareholding pattern of shell companies to distance himself and his family," the ED affidavit in court says.
"Whether Chidambaram is ex-Finance Minister and former Home Minister or an ordinary citizen... pre arrest bail should not be granted and it will be travesty of Justice if the top court considers the accused's plea," the agency says, adding that to uncover black money was its "duty to the nation".