The Supreme Court has extended till Wednesday the interim protection from arrest by Enforcement Directorate granted to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram. The apex court will hear Chidambaram's two petitions in relation to the INX Media money laundering case, including challenge to remand orders on Wednesday. On the next date, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will argue on behalf of Enforcement Directorate.
In the hearing on Tuesday, P Chidambaram's legal team demanded transcript of his interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to ascertain whether the former Union Minister has been evasive or not. Appearing for Chidambaram, senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna that they have filed an application seeking direction to the ED to produce the transcripts of ED's questioning on December 19 last year, January 1, 2019 and January 21, 2019 in the INX Media case.
The transcripts will establish whether Chidambaram was evasive during his interrogation, as alleged by the ED, Sibal said.
Sibal also stated before the bench that the ED cannot produce documents in the court randomly and "behind the back" for seeking Chidambaram's custody. "They are just producing documents at random and saying this is part of the case diary. They cannot place the documents behind the back and seek custody of accused," he said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for Chidambaram, referred to the constitutional and legal provisions and said that fundamental right of citizens under Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) cannot be suspended.
Singhvi argued that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was amended in 2009 whereas the allegations in the case are of 2007-2008. "You try and paint a person as a kingpin when these alleged offences did not exist at that time," he said.
Chidambaram is presently under CBI custody in relation to violation of FDI norms and money laundering. The probe agency had filed a case against him on May 15, 2019, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted in 2007 to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore. This was during Chidamabaram's tenure as Finance Minister in UPA-I government. Based on CBI's case, the ED also filed a case against him in 2017.
(With PTI inputs)