Former Union Minister P Chidambaram has been ordered to 14 days judicial custody in the INX Media case. The senior Congress leader, who was arrested by the CBI in the case last month and had undergone interrogation, will be lodged in the Tihar Jail till September 19.
Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar of a Special CBI court passed the orders on Thursday, sending P Chidambaram to 14 days of judicial custody in Tihar jail. The court also granted him a seperate cell with a cot and a bathroom after the former minister requested for it. Chidambaram also filed a surrender application in the case filed by the ED, which will come up for hearing on September 12.
Earlier on Thursday, the Supreme Court refused to grant anticipatory bail for him against arrest by Enforcement Directorate (ED). In a 57-page order, a bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi said: "This is not a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail. The investigating agency has to be given enough freedom to probe."The court, making an observation on the economic offences, said these offences are serious in nature and anticipatory bail has to be an exception when the investigation is ongoing in such cases.The court expressed apprehension that the accused if given bail may tamper with the evidence and destroy the money trial.
"Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, in our view, grant of anticipatory bail to the appellant will hamper the investigation and this is not a fit case for exercise of discretion to grant anticipatory bail to the appellant," said the court while rejecting Chidambaram's bail plea. The court observed that the grant of anticipatory bail at this stage would hamper the investigation, and therefore the accused may move regular bail before an appropriate court.
Replying to Chidambaram's lawyers' contention contesting the submission of documents in sealed covers in the court, the judge said that the court can peruse the documents in sealed covers to consider bail etc, "but won't do this on this case so as not to prejudice the case of the accused". Though, the court also noted that the right to anticipatory bail cannot be a subject matter of fundamental right under Article 32.
The Enforcement Directorate claimed it has specific inputs from various sources, including overseas banks, and the department has received some response on the Letter Rogatory issued. Therefore, the investigating agency has to be given sufficient freedom in the process of investigation.
The apex court noted that it does not endorse the approach of the Delhi High Court judge in extracting the note produced by the department, and it also do not find any ground warranting interference with the High Court order.The court noted that the grant of anticipatory bail at the stage of investigation may frustrate the investigating agency in interrogating the accused and in collecting the useful information and also the materials which might have been concealed.
(With inputs from IANS)