SC reserves verdict on Chidambaram’s bail plea in INX case

P Chidambaram

New Delhi, Nov 28 : The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgement on the plea filed by senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram seeking bail in the INX-Media money laundering case registered by Enforcement Directorate (ED).

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice R. Banumathi, allowed the ED to submit three sets of sealed covers in the two volumes.

“The Registry is directed to receive the sealed covers and keep them in safe custody for perusal of the court, if required,” the court said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, told the court that Chidambaram is extremely influential even from custody, while senior advocates Kabil Sibal and A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the senior Congress leader, told the bench that ED cannot orally prejudice the court against the grant of bail.

Sibal told the court that alleged emails, bank transactions indicating money laundering have been connected to Chidambaram, but the evidence linking all these with him is not there. “Show one piece of evidence… you cannot destroy reputations,” he argued.

Attacking the ED case against Chidambaram, he asked the agency to show one property, one bank account and one telephone call, which establishes he is involved in the case, insisting the entire case is nothing beyond allegations.

Chidambaram moved the top court challenging the Delhi High Court verdict denying him bail in the case on November 15.

Mehta told a three-judge bench headed by Justice Banumathi that whether in custody or not, the former Finance Minister is powerful enough to wield influence on witnesses involved in the case. “One of the witnesses has written a letter, and the other two have requested, please do not bring us face to face with him….in fact, his presence may influence the prosecution,” he contended.

Citing the gravity of the economic offences, Mehta told the court that the entire world is facing the menace of money laundering.

He told the bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, that the ED probe has uncovered 12 bank accounts where proceeds of crime were deposited and the agency has also gathered the details of 12 properties, with specific addresses, which have been together tracked down in 16 countries. He also told the apex court that economic offence is a separate class of offence graver than murder, and it is a white collar crime, which has the potential to shake the faith of the common man in the establishment.

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