There is a grave case to be made against former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Delhi High Court today as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) outlined its objections to the Congress leader's bail appeal. Appearing for the CBI, the Solicitor General labelled the 74-year-old veteran politician a "flight risk" and said "when the accused is so powerful... his mere presence would intimidate witnesses".
"Law makers cannot be allowed to become law breakers. We are not calling Chidambaram a flight risk because he vanished for 24 hours, but because he is accused of a serious offence. He knows conviction is likely and has the resources to flee to another country," the Solicitor General told the court.
In strongly-worded arguments, he urged the court not to grant Mr Chidambaram bail and said it would be "hazardous" if bail was granted.
"It is wrong to say that he is a respectful member of society ((and not a flight risk))... He is a flight risk and it would be hazardous if he gets bail," Mr Mehta said, adding, "Character of the accused is not factor in granting bail... when the accused is so powerful his mere presence would intimidate witnesses."
The CBI also submitted purported emails between INX Media and companies belonging to Mr Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram that would "prove offences committed".
Earlier, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr Chidambaram, denied his client had ever met Indrani Mukerjea, one of the co-founders of INX Media. In August sources told NDTV the case against Mr Chidambaram and his son was built on her statement.
Indrani Mukerjea, currently in jail for allegedly murdering her daughter - said that when she and her husband, Peter Mukerjea, met the former finance minister, he instructed them to help his son in exchange for approval for investment to INX Media.
"Hundreds of delegations call on the Finance Minister. I have no recollection of an INX Media delegation calling on me. I am certain I had never met Indrani Mukerjea at any place," Mr Sibal told the court on behalf of his client, pointing to the Visitors' Log at the Finance Minister's office in North Block in Delhi.
The CBI hit back and said the register had been "destroyed" but pointed to vehicular evidence from the Hotel Oberoi that allegedly proved she met Mr Chidambaram.
Mr Chidambaram, who has been in jail since September 5, is accused of allowing, as the country's finance minister, a huge infusion of foreign funds into INX Media in 2007. His son Karti Chidambaram is accused of receiving kickbacks for facilitating the process.