The gravity of offence committed in this case justify denial of pre-arrest bail...The facts persuade me to decline pre-arrest bail to petitioner while refraining to comment on merits of the case. (It is) preposterous to say prosecution of the petitioner (P Chidambaram) is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta”
– Delhi High Court, P. Chidambaram vs Directorate Of Enforcement, (Bail Appl. 1316/2018 & 1713/2018) on August 20, 2019
“In bail matters, gravity of the offence is of utmost consideration which weighs with the Court in granting or refusing pre-arrest bail or regular bail. The facts of this case persuades me to decline pre-arrest bail to petitioner while refraining to comment on the merits of the case,” are the exact words of Delhi Court. The series of events starting with the former Home and Finance Minister P Chidambaram going incommunicado on August 20, dramatic reappearance of the absconding leader in the Congress headquarters, late-night arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team on August 21 and special CBI court giving CBI custody till August 26 are remarkable in the political and legal history of Bharat. Beyond the political rhetoric of vendetta or perceptions, one has to look at this event in the larger national perspective.
The Joint investigation of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI, starting from 2016 showed that several transactions carried out by some companies involved in bringing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) were not genuine, and the revenue generated was done through fake transactions and raising fake invoices. In this particular case, in 2007-08, the money received by companies controlled by Karti Chidambaram was actually the illegal gratification received for the approval given by P. Chidambaram to INX Media during his tenure as a Finance Minister for giving Approval for investing in a proposed TV Channel which was revised post-facto after a series of email communication and alleged financial transactions. As the scope of the case is widening, the similar traits are visible in the other FDI approvals, which makes this a case of misuse of the office by the former Finance Minister. The custodial interrogation of P Chidambaram would help unearth a larger conspiracy in this ‘mammoth’ scale of money laundering.
In 2018, in the same case, P Chidambaram sought anticipatory bail for offences under Section 120B read with Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 8 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act in which he secured bail as many as 28 times. A battery of senior advocates, who generally charges lakhs of rupees for a single appearance, pleaded his case. Only the twenty-ninth time at the level of High Court the bail was denied taking the gravity of the case into account. CBI court further accepted the need for further investigation of the evasive leader.
P Chidambaram is not just a leader, but he has been the symbol of the elite of Bharat who has enjoyed all the might to influence legal, financial and therefore, political transactions. The investigating agencies after pursuing the case got the dots connected, and therefore, courts denied the bail. ‘No one is above the law. Lawmakers cannot be allowed to turn into lawbreakers with impunity, particularly in cases of this magnitude,’ is the clear message that is given by the Courts.
Till very recently Congress has been asking where the proof is and why no action and now when there is an action, the entire Congress is crying of a political vendetta. Is it because Chidambaram is just a pawn in the entire scheme of things and many skeletons will tumble out if he is nabbed? The real challenge for the investigation agencies is not just to back their allegations with a solid trail of facts and figures but also bringing out the larger beneficiaries of this alleged innovative and corruption scandal. If the CBI and ED allegations are true, then whether Chidambaram is the kingpin or just a pawn in the intelligent corruption case is the real question that needs to be investigated.