"Prevention With Capital P": Probe Agency Counters P Chidambaram

While the hearing on extension of interim protection from arrest granted to P Chidambaram was going on today in the Supreme Court, the Enforcement Directorate's lawyer made a comeback

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'Prevention With Capital P': Probe Agency Counters P Chidambaram

P Chidambaram faces allegations of money laundering and a court battle is going on


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. P Chidambaram has fully co-operated in the probe, his lawyer said
  2. His lawyer said that the probe agency wants to arrest him for humiliation
  3. Probe agency's lawyer said this was done for "prevention with capital P"

Former Union minister P Chidambaram's arrest was not meant to humiliate the 73-year-old Congress leader, but was aimed at "prevention", the Enforcement Directorate countered today. The agency made its case today on why the former minister should get no protection from arrest. Mr Chidambaram is already in the custody of the central Bureau of Investigation, having been arrested by the agency last week. The ED is next in line.  

In the Supreme Court today, the Enforcement Directorate's counsel made a comeback. "It's not done for 'humiliation, humiliation, humiliation', as Mr Singhvi said yesterday, but only for prevention, prevention, prevention with capital P," said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

"You (Enforcement Directorate) want to arrest me, but for what reason? The answer is -- to humiliate me, to humiliate me and to humiliate me, all letters of humiliation in capitals, minute by minute and hour by hour," Mr Chidambaram's party colleague and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi had argued yesterday.

Mr Chidambaram's family has contended that the government's motive was to "demonise and humiliate" him. "We challenge the government to produce a shred of evidence in support of one undisclosed bank account, one undisclosed property or one shell company anywhere in the world," the former minister's son Karti Chidambaram said in a statement on Twitter on Monday.

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 is out on bail.

The agency today said the top court would prevent it from doing its duty if it came to the conclusion that Mr Chidambaram should not be arrested.

"Custodial interrogation is needed because of a well-crafted layering of money laundering by the accused. We have details from various banks across the world and they can't be made public. There are specific rules that these details will be given to the authorities in a sealed cover and to show how sensitive the case is," Mr Mehta said. The Enforcement Directorate, he added, filed the case in 2017, whereas the alleged offences alleged are from the 2007-2008 period.

"A ghost is sought to be created" by P Chidambaram by "playing victim card", the probe agency said and added "We do not arrest an accused to have a cup of tea with him." 

Mr Singhvi has contended that Mr Chidambaram cannot be accused under the corruption section of the Prevention of Money laundering Act, since the provision did not exist at the time of the alleged crime.

Mr Mehta also argued that evidence cannot be handed to Mr Chidambaram, as his counsel apparently demanded. This was denied by Mr Sibal, who said all they wanted was a description of the evidence against the former minister. The court, however, can look at the material "to satisfy conscience", Mr Mehta said. Earlier the Supreme Court and the High Courts have looked into sealed cover documents and it is nothing new, he said.

The hearing will continue tomorrow, the top court said.



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