No immediate relief for Chidambaram: SC to hear appeal on Friday

File photo of the Supreme Court.

New Delhi, August 21: The Supreme Court will hear former home minister P Chidambaram’s petition for protection against arrest on Friday—a development that came after the Congress leader’s lawyers spent all day at the court trying to get it to hear his appeal.

Former Home Minister P Chidambaram’s lawyers were at the Supreme Court all day on Wednesday trying to get it to hear his appeal against Delhi High Court’s decision to deny him anticipatory bail. 

Chidambaram’s lawyers led by senior advocate Kapil Sibal were still trying to get the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to hear the appeal on Wednesday evening. The Chief Justice of India, who was part of the Constitution Bench hearing the Ayodhya dispute, rose without hearing the former home minister’s case, but Chidambaram’s lawyers said they were still trying for listing of matter Wednesday.

The developments came after Chimdambar, faced with imminent arrest in the INX Media scam case, failed to get any immediate relief from the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned Chidambaram’s petition before a Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and demanded urgent listing and hearing, but court refused to urgently take up his petition.

Sibal sought an order to protect Chidambaram from arrest, saying the delay would defeat the purpose and make the petition infructuous.

But Justice Ramana said he was sending the file to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to assign it to a Bench. 

Sibal immediately rushed to Court No 1 but couldn’t mention it as the five-judge Constitution Bench headed by CJI Gogoi had already resumed its hearing on the Ayodhya land dispute.

Chidambaram has filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court’s order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea.

Fellow Congress leaders and senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Vivek Tankha were there to represent Chidambaram in the top court.

On Tuesday, after Chidambaram failed to get urgent listing and hearing of his plea against the Delhi High Court’s order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea, the CBI and ED teams reached his residence in the capital in the evening to talk to him. The two agencies–which were silent on his arrest–returned after being told that Chidambaram was not at his place.

The Delhi High Court had on Tuesday dismissed his anticipatory bail plea, terming the INX Media scam a “classic case of money laundering” and even refused to grant him interim protection from arrest to approach the top court.

Noting that he was of the prima facie opinion that the former finance minister’s custodial interrogation was required for an effective probe into the case, Justice Gaur said granting bail in such cases would send wrong message to society.

Listing the reasons for denial of anticipatory bail plea, the HC said Chidambaram was evasive in replies to the probe agencies while enjoying protection given by it on July 25, 2018, in both the cases and extended from time to time.

The senior Congress leader’s role had come under the scanner of various investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media cases involving Rs 305 crore. It was during his tenure as finance minister in the UPA-I government that clearances from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) were given to the two ventures.

In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to the media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister. Thereafter, the ED in 2018 lodged the money laundering case in this regard. With PTI