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With the Supreme Court fixing Friday, August 23 as the date for the hearing on the former Minister P Chidambaram’s plea for anticipatory bail, the chances of the Congress leader being arrested appear very real. The Court on Wednesday afternoon refused to hear the plea until the matter is listed. This means that  he can be arrested today by the ED and the CBI, both agencies that he lorded over as  both finance and home minister in UPA 1 and 2. That of course is contingent on  the two agencies spotting him, as the former minister has gone missing ever since the Delhi High Court yesterday rejected his plea for anticipatory bail in the INX Media case.

Chidambaram’s legal team led by Kapil Sibal were waiting in the room of the before CJI-led Constitution Bench at 4 pm, hoping that CJI Ranjan Gogoi, who was rising for the day post-Ayodhya hearing, would enquire why they were there. But the CJI Ranjan Gogoi left the courtroom without having a word with Chidambaram’s counsel present there.

Earlier, after the plea was found to be defective, the apex court had asked Chidambaram’s legal team to re-file an error-free version of the petition before the CJI takes a final call on the matter. | Chidambaram’s petition seeking protection from arrest had been filed under the ‘defective list’. SC says that since the petition has not been filed properly, the registry has raised certain objections against it. The CJI will now take a call on the fate of his plea shortly. The CJI had recently criticised petitioners in Article 370 cases to file defective petitions.

However, there was a minor relief for Sibal and team when the Supreme Court Registrar informed the court that defects in Chidambaram’s petition were corrected.

Earlier, through the day  Chidambnaram’s lawyers kept up their efforts to get relief from the Supreme Court. But it ran in to a glitch  after Justice NV Ramana, before who mit was listed,  said that only Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi would take up the case.

“Our client is not running away… We are only asking that matter be listed”, senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal told Justice Ramana on Wednesday afternoon. Chidambaram’s protection from arrest in the INX Media case ended yesterday after the high court turned down his request for anticipatory bail.

This was the second occasion today that Sibal was in his court since Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was busy with the constitution bench hearing the Ayodhya title suit. In between, the registry had approached Chief Justice Gogoi for a direction. There, however, were no instructions because of some confusion if the paperwork relating to the caveat – a request to be heard before any orders are passed – filed by the CBI and ED was complete.

Chidambaram’s lawyers insisted that they had complied with all the rules and hoped that court officials would approach Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi again, clarifying the factual position about the formalities.

In his special leave petition, Chidambaram had contested the high court’s decision to reject pre-arrest bail on grounds that there was no allegation that the petitioner is likely to flee justice, influence witnesses or tamper with the evidence.

–India Legal Bureau

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