- P Chidambaram has been in CBI custody since last week
- He is accused of facilitating infusion of foreign funds into INX Media
- The former Union Minister has said arrest is a method of humiliating him
A decision on former Union Minister P Chidambaram's appeal seeking protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, will be taken on September 5, the Supreme Court said today. The former minister -- who has been in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation since last week -- will have immunity from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate.
The court said it would hear his plea against his remand in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday. Earlier this week, a special court allowed the CBI to keep him in custody for questioning till Friday.
Mr Chidambaram has been accused of facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds into the media company INX Media in 2007, when he was Finance Minister, at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role. Karti Chidambaram -- also named in the case -- is out on bail.
Mr Chidambaram has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he does not have to be questioned in custody as he has answered all the questions asked so far by the agency. An arrest, he told the court, is only a method of humiliating him. The agency has denied the accusation, contending the arrest was a preventive measure.
"All those accused in INX Media case have taken regular bail from court... No one got anticipatory bail," Mr Mehta said.
Challenged by Abhishek Singhvi, Mr Chidambaram's counsel, about applying the corruption section of the law against money laundering, the government today claimed he could be charged under other laws.
"Even if this case does not come under Section 45 PMLA, then this case also comes under Section 438 of CrPC, which gives us the right to arrest," said the Enforcement Directorate's counsel Tusher Mehta.
Mr Singhvi had earlier pointed out that section in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act could not be applied in case of Mr Chidambaram as it did not exist in 2007, when the alleged irregularities took place.
The agency has claimed that they have evidence of Mr Chidambaram's wrongdoing. The defence has argued that evidence cannot be presented at this stage, especially without informing the accused.
Appearing for Mr Chidambaram today, his party colleague and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal said the specific bank documents and other material - which Tushar Mehta claimed the Enforcement Directorate has - "cannot be part of case diary". "Their veracity has to be proven first in a court of law," he said.
According to the prosecution, "Chidambaram was laundering, buying properties making layers after layers for years. Yet you did not think of arresting him," he questioned.
Mr Mehta, however, handed over a sealed envelope to the judges today.
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