Former Union Minister P Chidambaram was greeted with loud cheers by supporters upon his release from Delhi's Tihar jail on Wednesday evening, hours after he was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX Media case. However, the senior Congress leader refused to answer any questions on the case, citing a court order preventing him from doing so.
"I cannot comment on the case. I am going to obey the Supreme Court's order and I will not comment on the case," Mr Chidambaram said.
However, that did not prevent him from alleging that he was unjustly persecuted by the BJP-led central government on flimsy grounds. "The fact is, after 106 days of pre-trial incarceration, there is not a single charge that has been framed against me," Mr Chidambaram said, adding that he would "speak all about it" on Thursday.
Setting aside a previous Delhi High Court verdict, the Supreme Court granted bail to the 74-year-old politician on the condition that he desists from giving any press interviews or making public comments regarding himself or any of his co-accused in the money-laundering case. "The appellant (Mr Chidambaram) shall not give any press interviews nor make any public comment in connection with this case qua him or other co-accused," the bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said.
The Supreme Court said that the "triple test" for bail was found to be in the senior politician's favour -- he was not absconding, not tampering with evidence, and not being uncooperative with investigators. It observed that while some economic offences can be extremely grave in nature, "grant of bail is the rule and refusal is the exception".
Among the first to react to the news of Mr Chidambaram being granted bail was his son, Karti. "Phew, at last after 106 days," he tweeted with a smiley. While supporters celebrated the development, the BJP's Sambit Patra poked fun at the senior politician by saying that he has joined the OOBC (Out On Bail Club) of the Congress.
On May 15, 2017, the CBI had registered a case alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to the Indrani Mukerjea-headed INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore during Mr Chidambaram's tenure as Finance Minister in 2007.
The Congress leader has been in custody since August 21, when he was arrested by the central probe agency from his New Delhi residence amid high drama.