Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday moved an interim bail plea before a Delhi court in the INX Media case, saying that he enjoys the goodwill of society as a parliamentarian and there is no likelihood of him absconding. The court will hear the petition today.
Mr Chidambaram, who was sent to one more day in CBI custody, said he has always cooperated with investigation agencies and will continue to do so in the future. "The applicant is a man of 73/74 years who enjoys the goodwill of society. There is no likelihood of him absconding or fleeing from justice. The applicant is also a senior advocate practising in the Supreme Court," the bail plea read, adding that he is a parliamentarian who has served in several capacities in the Union cabinet since the 1990s.
The former Union Minister is accused of facilitating illegal infusion of foreign funds in jailed media baron Indrani Mukerjea's INX Media over a decade ago in return for alleged kickbacks to his son, Karti Chidambaram. He has been in custody for nearly two weeks now, ever since the Delhi High Court denied him anticipatory bail on August 20.
Mr Chidambaram maintained in his plea that "material suppression" of facts and documents formed the basis for the non-bailable warrants issued against him on September 21 and his subsequent arrest. "There is not even any allegation that the applicant has or will tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses," the petition read, adding that all documentary evidence in the INX Media case lies in the Finance Ministry's possession and is therefore inaccessible to him.
The petition further pointed out that all the co-accused in the case have either been released on regular bail or granted anticipatory or statutory bail. "None of the officials of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (the agency that cleared the fund transfer to INX Media) have been arrested or even sought to be arrested by the CBI," it added.
The Congress leader further claimed that as the offences he has been charged with were punishable with only a maximum sentence of seven years at the time, the agency should have issued a notice as per law. "The CBI has carried out custodial interrogation of the applicant for the last 12 days, and there can be no cause for seeking further police custody as the investigation against him has admittedly come to an end," the plea read.
Mr Chidambaram had managed to avoid being sent to Delhi's Tihar jail earlier in the day, with his counsel - Kapil Sibal - citing his advanced age to keep him out. "Some protection must be given to Chidambaram. He is 74 years old. Let him be put under house arrest and not sent to Tihar Jail," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)