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A Delhi court on Thursday extended the judicial custody of P Chidambaram till Oct 30 in INX Media case being probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The Rouse Avenue court also denied Chidambaram interim bail for medical treatment for 2 days.

At today’s hearing, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta appearing for Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought 7 more days’ time to interrogate P Chidambaram saying that the probe agency have accumulated enough documents to be shown and confronted.

Mehta further told the special CBI judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar that statements of Chidambaram were recorded and that probe agency could only get 6-7 hours to interrogate him.

SG said: “Have I been able to use the time given to me by court or not is material at this stage? If not, then have right to seek extensions.”

Senior Adv Kapil Sibal appearing for Chidambaram countered SG and said: “The statements could have taken prior as well. Why now in custody? Last witness examined is his son, they could have done it before. They could have summoned and I appear… why didn’t you do it before?”

SG countered: “I have timetable… I will show from record what has been found new in the matter…”

Sibal said that Chidambaram was severely ill and having stomach pain and the Doctor has not been able to take care of him.

SG said: “The best medical facility is available in capital. Can this be ground for rejecting custody? Kindly, not to go in emotional argument. I would confrontation for digging out the material information. It would hamper investigation if the court does not allow investigation at this stage.”

Chidambaram had earlier on Wednesday moved the HC seeking bail just a day after the apex granted him bail in a related case probed by the CBI. The court rejected the agency’s contention that he could influence witnesses if set free. The top court had also turned down SG Mehta’s plea that Chidambaram had the means to flee the country like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi did.

The Congress leader also said that his health was fragile and had already suffered two bouts of illness. The petition said he had lost 5 kg during the two months that he had spent in custody. “It is submitted that with the onset of cold weather and the incidents of dengue etc, the petitioner’s health is likely to become more vulnerable,” he said.

Chidambaram also told the court that he was arrested by the ED only on October 16 though he had requested the court to let him surrender a month earlier. But the Special Judge erred in rejecting his surrender request, Chidambaram’s legal team argued in the petition for bail.

The veteran Congress leader also reiterated that his arrest was malafide and only designed to harm his reputation.

Pointing to the Supreme Court’s order granting him bail on Tuesday, Chidambaram said it had been held by the top court that “a mere averment that the petitioner allegedly approached witnesses without any material basis cannot be a reason to deny regular bail”.

The ex-union minister was first arrested by the CBI on 21 August in a 2017 case relating to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) decision allowing INX Media to receive foreign direct investment in excess of the approved amount a decade earlier. The ED later registered a money laundering case on the basis of its probe in the CBI case.

It was in this case that the Supreme Court granted him bail on Tuesday. But 74-year-old politician needs to get bail in the second case investigated by the ED to be released.

Chidambaram claimed that he had been falsely implicated by the federal agencies. “Not even an iota of evidence of any undisclosed bank account or undisclosed property or undisclosed shell company being owned/held by the petitioner has been found either by the CBI or the ED,” he said.

-India Legal Bureau

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