Apex Court to hear on Friday PC’s petition seeking stay on Delhi High Court order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea
Three-judge SC bench had sent PC’s plea before the CJI for his consideration to accord urgent hearing
SENIOR Congress leader P Chidambaram, who is facing threat of arrest, failed on Wednesday to get protection from the Supreme Court which decided to hear on Friday his petition seeking stay on the Delhi High Court order that had dismissed his anticipatory bail plea. Registrar (Judicial) informed Chidambaram’s lawyer that CJI Ranjan Gogoi has listed the matter for hearing on Friday. Soon after getting the message from Registrar (Judicial), a team of lawyers led by senior advocate Kapil Sibal had short deliberation in the consultation room after which they left the apex court.
Chidambaram, who was Home Minister and Finance Minister in the UPA Government from 2004-2014, had sought a stay on the Delhi High Court’s Tuesday judgement dismissing his anticipatory bail plea and paving the way for his arrest lodged by CBI and ED in cases related to the INX Media scam. His petition was first mentioned by Sibal in the morning before a bench, comprising Justices N V Ramana, M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi, which sent it for being placed before the CJI for his consideration to accord it urgent hearing. When the team of lawyers representing Chidambaram did not receive any information on urgent listing, Sibal once again mentioned it before the same bench after it assembled post lunch. Sibal, flanked by other senior advocates Salman Khurshid, Vivek Tankha and Indira Jaising, told the bench that the investigating agencies have issued a look out notice against Chidambaram as if he is going to “run away”.
The top court said the defects in the petition had been removed “just now” and it “cannot be listed for hearing today itself”. “Without listing of the petition, we cannot hear the matter,” said the bench. “Sorry Mr Sibal. We cannot hear the matter,” the bench said when he repeatedly asked for hearing the matter on Wednesday itself. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the plea of Chidambaram for hearing the matter on oral mentioning saying that the papers are not with him. Just as the bench assembled in the post lunch session, Sibal said he was once again mentioning the matter for listing as he had not heard anything from the Registry about its listing.
The bench told him that there were some defects in the petition and the Registry had informed about it. When Sibal said the defects have been cured, the bench called Registrar (judicial) Surya Pratap Singh and enquired about the defects. The Registrar said the defects have been cured “just now”, and the petition will be placed before the CJI for allocating it before an appropriate bench. At this, Sibal said that the matter cannot be listed for Wednesday as the CJI was sitting in the Constitution bench and will not rise before 4 pm. While the senior advocate was repeatedly insisting the matter be hear, the bench told him, “We have already directed the matter to be placed before CJI”.
PC makes dramatic appearance at Cong HQ
FORMER Finance Minister P Chidambaram, wanted in a money laundering case, made a dramatic appearance at a press conference in the Congress headquarters on Wednesday evening, and asked probe agencies to “respect” the law and wait till Friday when the Supreme Court hears his bail plea. Facing arrest after Supreme Court refused to hear his urgent plea for bail in the INX media case, Chidambaram put up a strong defence of himself and his family members, saying none of them has been accused of any offense by the probe agencies. “I am aghast that I was accused of hiding from the law,” he said rejecting allegations that he was evading investigating agencies. He said he was working with his lawyers through the last night, preparing his papers or his bail application. “Until Friday and beyond, let’s hope the lamp of liberty will shine bright and illuminate the whole country,” he said, suggesting that the probe agencies should not arrest him until the apex court decides on his bail plea. “I will respect law even if applied with an unequal hand by probe agencies,” he said reading out from a written statement and flanked by several senior Congress leaders. He did not take any questions from journalists and left the venue after finishing his statement.
Cong leaders back PC
A HOST of Congress leaders on Wednesday backed their colleague P Chidambaram, facing action in a money laundering case related to INX Media, with Rahul Gandhi accusing the Government of using probe agencies and the media to “character assassinate” the former Finance Minister. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who said the party will continue to fight for the truth no matter what the consequences are, the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala as well as Anand Sharma were among those who stood in solidarity with Chidambaram. “Modi’s Government is using the ED, CBI and sections of a spineless media to character assassinate Mr Chidambaram. I strongly condemn this disgraceful misuse of power,” Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter. Priyanka Gandhi alleged that Chidambaram is being “hunted down”. The Congress officially said that the party stands in support of its senior leader while accusing the Government of “persecuting” its citizens for speaking truth to power. Surjewala tweeted, “India witnesses worst kind of virulent vendetta by Modi Govt as the BJP runs a police state. Judge reserves judgement for 7 months and delivers it 72 hours before retirement, CBI/ED are sent to raid as a respected former FM is hounded. Banana Republic?” His colleague, senior party spokesperson Sharma, also accused the Government of targeting Opposition leaders and termed the action of probe agencies against Chidambaram as “political vendetta”. Another Congress spokesperson R P N Singh echoed him, saying even when there are cases going on against leaders of other parties, the investigations are stopped the moment they join the BJP.
Look Out Circular by ED, CBI
THE Enforcement Directorate (ED) and The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) have issued a Look Out Circular against former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in connection with the INX Media money laundering case, officials of both the agencies said on Wednesday. ED officials said that the alert notice against the Congress leader has been sent to all land, air and seaports and law enforcement agencies at these facilities. It says the ED should be alerted in case the person is found on their premises. It also asks them to not allow the Congress leader to cross the Indian border without the permission of the ED. The officials said this is a preventive measure exercised by the agency as Chidambaram’s whereabouts are not known at present and he is required by them to take the probe forward in the INX Media case, being investigated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The CBI has also alerted all the airports to prevent Chidambaram from boarding a flight, officials said, adding that the circular was issued recently.