With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) formally announcing the arrest of former home and finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case, the focus has now shifted to his future course of action.
Legal experts say that with his arrest, the special leave petition (SLP) filed by Chidambaram's lawyers in the Supreme Court against the high court order on his anticipatory bail now stands infructuous and that he would have to file a fresh petition in the lower court.
Mohit Chaudhury, Managing Partner, Kings & Alliance, explains: "He will apply for regular bail before the lower court. Sleuths will ask for custodial interrogation, which the court will give. Since he has been arrested, he may be in police remand. He may not be sent to jail but instead would be in the office of the investigating agencies."
Supreme Court Lawyer Virag Gupta says that his lawyers can also apply for bail in the Supreme Court. "His lawyers' plea would be that since Chidambaram has been arrested in a pending matter, the apex court has jurisdiction on the matter," he says.
According to him, such a petition can have its merits and demerits. "If SC admits, it would be very good but if it gets rejected, then he would not get bail from any court," he says.
Chidambaram, in his press conference yesterday, said that he has not been accused of any offence in the INX Media case and that no chargesheet had been filed against him.
On this, Mohit Chaudhary of Kings and Alliance says that charge sheet will be filed after the investigation. "The matter is at the investigation stage and therefore to ask for a chargesheet is not the way it should happen," he says, adding that the investigation will ultimately lead to chargesheet and that CBI might have arrested him for certain suspicion.
However, lawyer Virag Gupta says that there are reports that there is prosecution sanctioned against him but since his name is not in the FIR or the chargesheet. It is not known how the prosecution can be sanctioned against him.
According to Virag Gupta, the statement before CBI is not admissible before the court as evidence because they are recorded under police proceedings. But a statement before Enforcement Directorate (ED) is admissible, so it is to be seen who will record the statement.
It is to be seen if there would be an exchange of the arrested person between the two agencies.
Meanwhile, Mohit Chaudhury said the CBI came down heavily on the former minister in the case. He says: "Power to arrest does not mean that somebody needs to exercise it without an emergency cause. They could have waited for the anticipatory bail to come up before the Supreme Court. They were aware that it was already filed. It is also undermining the authority of the Supreme Court in some manner."
Virag Gupta, however, makes an important point. He says the CBI had issued a notice on Tuesday asking him to report for recording his statement. So after the press conference, it was expected from him to go to the CBI headquarters to record his statement. "A notice was issued directing (him) to go for a statement. Instead of going for the statement, he went home avoiding interaction with the officers. I think by doing so he has violated a protocol," he says.