- P Chidambaram was granted bail today by the Supreme Court
- He will continue to remain in probe agency custody
- Mr Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21
P Chidambaram was granted bail on Tuesday in the INX Media corruption case by the Supreme Court, which ruled that there is no possibility of the former Union Minister absconding and "no whisper" of any evidence that he tried to influence even one witness. But Mr Chidambaram will not be released as he remains in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate.
Mr Chidambaram, arrested by the CBI on August 21, had been in judicial custody in Delhi's Tihar jail until last week, when he was handed over to the Enforcement Directorate. The 74-year-old Congress leader has been granted bail in the CBI case but will remain in the Enforcement Directorate's custody till October 24 the top court said.
"The appellant Chidambaram is said to be aged 74 years and is also said to be suffering from age-related health problems. Considering the above factors and the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the appellant is entitled to be granted bail," the judges said.
Rejecting the CBI's argument that Mr Chidambaram is a flight risk, the Supreme Court said the investigating agency did not provide any evidence on how the witness was influenced - "SMS, e-mail, letter or telephonic calls and the persons who have approached the material witnesses."
The Congress leader "can be released if he is not required in any other case", the court said, adding that he will have to give a bond of Rs 1 lakh.
Mr Chidambaram was in Tihar, Asia's largest prison facility, for more than a month.
The court earlier on October 15 allowed the probe agency to question Mr Chidambaram in its custody and allowed home cooked food, a separate cell, a western toilet, spectacles and medicines for the veteran leader.
The probe agency opposed his request for air-conditioning. He is allowed to meet family members and relatives for half-an-hour every day.
The INX Media case involves allegations that Mr Chidambaram, as Finance Minister of the country, facilitated foreign funding for the company INX Media - co-founded by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea - in 2007 and his son Karti received kickbacks for it.
Mr Chidambaram, Karti Chidambaram and 13 others including senior bureaucrats and private companies have been accused in a CBI charge-sheet of causing losses to the government. The charge-sheet alleges the Chidambarams received Rs 9.96 lakh as bribes.
Peter Mukerjea is also an accused but Indrani Mukerjea, who has turned approver against Mr Chidambaram, does not face charges. Both Peter and Indrani Mukerjea are currently in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani's daughter Sheena Bora.