SC rejects CBI objections to grant bail to Chidambaram, says ‘not flight risk’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram in the INX Media case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A three-judge Bench of Justice R Banumathi, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy granted bail to Chidambaram.

He had filed a plea challenging the Delhi High Court verdict denying him bail in the case. The Congress leader, however, continues to be in custody of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and cannot walk free immediately.

In the judgement, the court said that Chidambaram was not a “flight risk” and in view of the conditions imposed, there was no possibility of his abscondence from the trial.

“Statement of the prosecution that the appellant (Chidambaram) has influenced the witnesses and there is likelihood of his further influencing the witnesses cannot be the ground to deny bail to the appellant particularly, when there is no such whisper in the six remand applications filed by the prosecution,” the Bench noted.

“The appellant is said to be aged 74 years and is also said to be suffering from age related health problems. Considering the above factors and the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the appellant is entitled to be granted bail,” top court said while setting aside the order of Delhi High Court which denied bail to Chidambaram.

He was ordered to be released on bail if not required in any other case, subject to the condition of his executing bail bonds for a sum of Rs 1 lakh with two sureties of like sum to the satisfaction of the Special Judge (PC Act).

Chidambaram has to make himself available for interrogation, the top court stated.

“The passport if already not deposited, shall be deposited with the Special Court and the appellant shall not leave the country without leave of the Special Court and subject to the order that may be passed by the Special Judge from time to time,” the verdict of Supreme Court said.

On August 21, Chidambaram was arrested in connection with the case by the CBI, which has recently chargesheeted him and others, including his son Karti. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.

The Congress leader approached the apex court challenging the September 30 verdict of the High Court which had dismissed his bail plea in the INX Media corruption case, filed by the CBI, saying the probe was at an advanced stage and the possibility of his influencing the witnesses cannot be ruled out.

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