The Supreme Court has granted bail to former Union Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after he spent more than 100 days in custody in Tihar jail in connection with the INX Media case.
The judgment was delivered by a bench comprising Justice R Banumathi, Justice A S Bopanna, and Justice Hrishikesh Roy.
While granting bail, the bench has directed Chidambaram to co-operate with the ED investigation and not make any statements to the press. He has also been directed not to travel overseas or to tamper with evidence or influence witnesses in the case.
Earlier, Chidambaram had moved the Supreme Court seeking bail in the ED case after the Delhi High Court rejected his bail plea on the grounds that the charges are serious and grave.
Chidambaram's legal team had told the Supreme Court that he had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi had argued that the gravity of an offence cannot be a ground to deny bail to a person.
It was also pointed out to the Court that the ED had, in fact, rejected Chidambaram's offer to surrender when his anticipatory bail was rejected by the courts. The ED had first expressed urgency to take him into custody for interrogation, but expressed no such urgency when an offer to surrender was made, Chidambaram's legal team told the Supreme Court.
Chidambaram's long ordeal began in August 2019, when the CBI apprehended and later arrested him on August 21, after the Delhi High Court rejected his plea for an anticipatory bail in both the CBI and the ED cases. The CBI took him into custody even before the Supreme Court could hear the petition challenging the Delhi High Court's order rejecting anticipatory bail.
After being lodged at the Tihar Jail, Chidambaram moved the courts for regular bail and was ultimately successful in securing bail from the Supreme Court in the CBI case. The ED had sought his custodial interrogation in the meantime, which led to Chidambaram's prolonged stay in the prison. A bail plea in the ED case was rejected by the Delhi High Court, leading to Chidambaram appealing before the Supreme Court.