News that Congress leader P Chidambaram is to be released on bail in connection with the INX Media scam case, after spending 106 days in custody, was met with a relieved tweet by his son, Karti Chidambaram. "Phew. At last after 106 days," Chidambaram junior tweeted, with a smiley at the end, minutes after a three-member top court bench headed by Justice R Banumathi read out its order. The Congress also tweeted: "Truth finally prevails".
As part of his bail conditions, Mr Chidambaram must furnish a bond of Rs 2 lakh, in addition to two sureties. The former Finance Minister also cannot travel without court permission - he had earlier surrendered his passport - and must present himself for questioning as required.
The senior Congress leader also cannot make public statements, give interviews or contact witnesses.
Phew. At last after 106 days :)— Karti P Chidambaram (@KartiPC) December 4, 2019
On November 28, the Supreme Court had reserved judgement on an appeal filed by Mr Chidambaram, who had challenged the November 15 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him bail in the case.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra hit out at Mr Chidambaram and his party after the former Finance Minister was granted bail.
During the arguments in the top court Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), had said Mr Chidambaram continued to wield "substantial influence" on crucial witnesses even from custody.
Senior advocates Kabil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Mr Chidambaram, told the bench there was no evidence linking their client, either directly or indirectly, to such allegations. They also said there was no material to show he had influenced witnesses or tampered with evidence.
Earlier, after the Delhi High Court turned down his bail, Mr Chidambaram hit out at the denial.
"The High Court denies me bail saying that releasing me will send a wrong signal, as if I am some Ranga Billa," Kapil Sibal, representing the Congress leader, said on his behalf. Ranga and Billa were hanged in 1982 for the shocking kidnapping and murder of two teenage siblings in Delhi.
Mr Chidambaram has been accused of creating a web of shell companies and several foreign bank accounts to launder money. He also faces charges of misusing his position as Finance Minister of the country in 2007 while facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds in INX Media at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram in a separate case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI.