A day after senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram was named in a chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at a Kolkata court, the Madras High Court has granted her interim anticipatory bail. This after a special hearing was held on Saturday by Justice GK Ilanthiryan to look into fresh allegations of her having received a bribe from the Saradha group of companies.
On Friday, the CBI alleged that Nalini Chidambaram had entered into criminal conspiracy with Sudipto Sen – who is the proprietor of the Saradha group – after they met through Manoranjana Sinh, the estranged wife of former Union Minister Matang Sinh. The group of companies has been accused of cheating and fund misappropriation.
An earlier supplementary chargesheet had stated that she was given Rs 1.4 crore from the company as a legal fee, which was earlier classified as a fee for her legal expertise. However, in its latest chargesheet, the CBI has now changed its stance and alleged that it was a payment for her role in managing probes by various organisations, such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the registrar of companies.
Questioning this allegation in the High Court, Nalini's petition reads, "It is the case of the Petitioner that once CBI has recorded in the earlier Supplementary Charge Sheet that the Sarada Group paid Rs 1.4 crore to the Petitioner on behalf of Smt. Manoranjana Sinh towards her legal expenses, there cannot be a change in stand by CBI in the subsequent supplementary charge sheet by changing colour of the payment from legal fees to bribe money."
She further points out that she cooperated with investigating officials and that her statement was recorded by CBI officials in Chennai before the supplementary chargesheet was filed.
"However before filing of the present supplementary charge sheet, where CBI has changed the colour of payment of Rs. 1.4 crores from legal fees to bribe money, no further investigation was conducted by the CBI examining either the Petitioner or her authorised representative," she alleges.
The senior advocate has expressed distrust in the CBI's motives and alleges that the agency is bound to act irrationally, prompting to request interim anticipatory bail.
"It is apparent that it is not a bonafide exercise by the prosecuting agency but is totally malafide with the intention to somehow or other implicate the Petitioner with false accusations and arrest the Petitioner on the basis of such false accusations," reads the petition. "The Petitioner apprehends that the CBI will act irrationally and arrest the Petitioner in total disregard of judicial pronouncements on this issue with a malafide intention and abuse of authority. Further, the filing of the charge sheet on a Friday only strengthens the reasonable apprehension of arrest disregarding the rule of law."
After hearing the arguments, the Madras HC granted Nalini four weeks interim anticipatory bail. She has further been directed to furnish sureties in connection with the same before the Jurisdictional Magistrate at Egmore.