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The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought a status report from the CBI within seven days on a plea filed by former finance minister P Chidambaram who is currently lodged in Tihar jail seeking bail in INX Media case.

Yesterday, Chidambaram had moved the High Court seeking bail as well as quashing of the order passed by the trial court on September 5 that sent him to 14 days’ judicial custody in the INX Media case. “The Learned. Trial Court failed to appreciate that the grounds on which an accused can be remanded to judicial custody are very different viz. (i) flight risk; (ii) tampering with evidence; and (iii) influencing witnesses. Pertinently, none of the said grounds are made out in the instant case against the Petitioner herein.

“In any event, in so far as the allegations regarding tampering with evidence and influencing the witnesses were concerned, the same could have been addressed by imposing necessary and sufficient conditions on the Petitioner. However, the grant of judicial custody remand on the basis of mere apprehensions of the CBI of tampering with evidence and influencing the witnesses is patently illegal. Hence, the instant Petition,” the plea  had said said.

Apart from emphasizing on the fact that he was 74 years old, his bail plea before the HC lists nine diseases that he is suffering from (see attachment)

The Congress leader is facing probe in cases registered by the CBI and the ED pertaining to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when he was the Union Finance Minister.

Last month, he was arrested  by the CBI after the Delhi High Court rejected his petition seeking anticipatory bail in the case. He was later sent to CBI custody for interrogation.

The ED is also seeking his custodial interrogation related to money-laundering allegations.

The Counsel for Chidambaram, Learned Senior Advocate Mr. Kapil Sibal submitted that the impugned events in the case pertained to 2007 – 2008 and the FIR was lodged in 2017 and the accused was interrogated only once before his arrest.

When Justice Suresh Kumar Kait inquired about the reasons for not moving bail application immediately. He also asked as to why an application under section 482 was moved when the accused has already spent some days in Judicial custody.

Pursuing to this Mr. Kapil Sibal withdrew the application filed under section 482 and instead asked for daily family visits and serving home cooked foods which was opposed by the Learned Solicitor General Tushar Mehta saying that discrimination cannot be done among the prisoners.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait allowed family visits but refused to entertain the plea for serving home cooked food. The hearing is to continue on September 23, 2019.

P Chidambaram was sent into Judicial Custody on September 5, 2019 for 15 days by Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar.

–India Legal Bureau

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