Delhi court extends CBI custody of Chidambaram till August 30

New Delhi, August 26

A Delhi court extended the Central Bureau of Investigation's custody of former Union finance minister P Chidambaram by five more days—a development that came hours after the Supreme Court refused to entertain his appeal against the high court's decision to dismiss his anticipatory bail. 

Chidambaram was produced at the Delhi court on Monday at the end of the CBI’s four-day custody of him in the INX media case.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General KN Natrajan, who argued for CBI, said there were sufficient grounds for extension of his custodial interrogation as he was interrogated from August 23-26 and was confronted with a co-accused. Prosecutors said the process was not complete, and put before the court a file containing email exchanges between the accused persons.

"We need five days of custody of Chidambaram as the confrontation with co-accused will continue to unearth larger conspiracy," Mehta contended. 

Hours before, a Division Bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna refused to entertain his petition in a corruption case against him on the grounds that his arrest by the CBI had made it “infructuous”.

The Bench however said Chidambaram was at liberty to "seek remedy in accordance with the law". It also said that the Supreme Court's interim order protecting the former finance minister from arrest by ED in the same corruption case will continue.

It will hear ED's arguments on Tuesday.

At the Supreme Court on Monday, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi said in their arguments that the CBI ensured that Chidambaram’s plea become infructuous by arresting him when he was seeking protection from arrest.

They said that immediately after the high court had dismissed his anticipatory bail plea in both CBI and ED cases on May 20, the senior Congress leader had moved the apex court in the post-lunch session and his matter was listed for hearing on August 21.

While attempts were being made to get his petition listed for hearing on Wednesday, an order was passed that the matter will be heard on August 23. Chidambaram was arrested on the late evening of August 21.

Sibal narrated the sequence of events from August 20 to August 21, and said “the whole purpose of the CBI was to defeat the fundamental rights of my client, (Chidambaram) and his liberty guaranteed under the Constitution. He should have been heard but the matter was listed for hearing on Friday and not even Thursday”.

However, the Bench said on that ground Chidambaram’s plea against the high court decision cannot be entertained.

“So far as the CBI case is concerned, we are not inclined to hear it. We dismiss the special leave petition (of Chidambaram) in CBI case,” the Bench said.

It said the senior Congress leader can challenge the dismissal of his anticipatory bail in the CBI case on different grounds.

At present, the apex court Bench is hearing issues relating to the money-laundering case lodged by the ED in connection with the INX Media scam in which Chidambaram was granted protection from arrest till today. PTI/TNS

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