Former finance minister P Chidambaram sought bail from the Supreme Court in the INX Media case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, claiming the agency wanted to humiliate him by keeping him in custody for so long. The 74-year-old has been in Delhi's Tihar jail for the last 55 days, accused of signing off on a huge infusion of foreign funds into the firm as the finance minister in the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh in 2007 at the behest of his son Karti Chidambaram.
Appearing for Mr Chidambaram, senior advocates and party colleagues Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that there were no allegations about the former finance minister or his family members having ever tried to approach or influence any witness in the case.
Questioning the CBI's contention, Mr Singhvi said in September, the CBI claimed in Delhi High Court that Mr Chidambaram has approached two co-accused and tried to influence them.
"What did the agency do with the Witness Protection Scheme? Did they take any action under this scheme? Nothing. Just to deny my bail, they have come up with this argument," Mr Singhvi told the court.
The INX Media was co-founded by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently in jail in the case involving the murder of Indrani's daughter Sheena Bora. Indrani Mukerjea has turned approver in the case against the Chidambarams and the investigative agencies have based their case on her testimony.
"Are these co accused virtuous and giving the gospel truth? Here the case is completely relying on the statement of the accused who is accused of killing her own daughter. Now CBI says I approached the co-accused. Here, the statement of this co-accused was recorded under Section 164 CRPC, what influence is the CBI speaking about," he added.
Rubbishing the agency's allegation that Mr Chidambaram had been "absconding" -- which was one of the grounds on which bail has been repeatedly denied to him -- Mr Chidambaram's counsel said: "I addressed a press conference around 8 pm on August 21 and told in the press conference that I am heading to my home. The CBI arrested me at my home around 9.30 PM. How is this absconding?"
The lawyers also questioned the findings of the Delhi High Court, which had rejected Mr Chidambaram's bail plea on September 30, saying it should not have referred to the merits of the case while deciding a bail petition.
"Opinions are furnished and thereby a conclusion is drawn in a bail judgment... it would influence the trial... this the court should correct irrespective of whether I am granted bail or not," Mr Singhvi said.
The court would hear the arguments of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is representing CBI, on Wednesday.