“Phew. At last after 106 days,” tweeted Congress leader Karti Chidambaram soon after his father P Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX Media money laundering case. The former Finance Minister is expected to walk out of jail by evening.
Chidambaram, who stayed in Delhi’s Tihar Jail for almost three months, however, isn’t allowed to travel abroad without permission, the bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said.
The senior Congress leader cannot make any public statements, or give any interviews to the media and has to be present whenever he is called for questioning, the court said.
Senior lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in the court that there was neither any evidence linking Chidambaram with the alleged offence nor any material to show he had influenced witnesses or tampered with any evidence.
The Congress tweeted: “Truth finally prevails. #SatyamevaJayate.”
“But justice delayed is justice denied. This should have been granted much earlier. Nothing is different from three months ago,” tweeted Congress’ Shashi Tharoor.
BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, however, told reporters that “there is evidence against him”. Dismissing charges of political vendetta, he told a news agency, “We have never been vindictive. On the other hand when Chidambaram ji was the Home Minister, he filed false cases against me, he also filed false cases against Modi ji and Amit Shah ji. Later, we all were proved innocent.”
The veteran Congress leader was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 21 in the INX Media money laundering case and was granted bail by the Supreme Court on October 22.
However, he was immediately arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the money laundering case on October 16 and has been in judicial custody till November 27.
After the Delhi High Court denied him bail on November 15, the 74-year-old approached the top court where the ED had opposed his bail plea claiming he used the “influential office” of finance minister for “personal gains” and laundered proceeds of crime to conceal “tainted money”.
The ED also claimed that Chidambaram is a “very intelligent and influential man” and there is “sufficient evidence on record” that he has been “indulging in destruction of evidence” and “influencing the witnesses”.
Chidambaram argued that the probe agency cannot “destroy” his reputation by making baseless allegations.
Questioning the High Court’s decision to deny him bail, he had said, “the high court denies me bail saying that releasing me will send a wrong signal, as if I am some Ranga-Billa,” referring to Ranga and Billa, who were hanged for the kidnapping and killing two siblings in Delhi in 1982.
Several Congress leaders, including party chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Shashi Tharoor, met with Chidambaram at Tihar where he stayed in a separate cell.