New Delhi: The Supreme Court today refused to interfere with a Delhi High Court order granting bail to Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, for alleged financial irregularities related to INX Media. When it comes to the question of liberty, the courts do not go into technicality, a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.
The bench said it is not interfering with the bail granted to Karti but was leaving the question of law open — on whether he can approach the high court when his application for bail was already pending before the trial court. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, said this question of law has to be kept open as invoking powers of concurrent jurisdiction of high court may be a case of “forum shopping”. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Karti, said there is already a judgement in which concurrent jurisdiction of high court can be invoked.
On June 25, the CBI moved the apex court challenging the high court order granting bail to Karti. The probe agency claimed in its appeal that it was “impermissible in law” for the high court to entertain Karti’s bail plea when an application seeking a similar relief was pending before the trial court. On March 23, a single judge bench of the high court granted bail to Karti, who was arrested on February 28 by the CBI, saying the relief should not be refused unless the crime was of the “highest magnitude” entailing “severe punishment”.
Karti was arrested from Chennai in connection with an FIR lodged on May 15 last year, which had alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media for receiving funds of about Rs 305 crore from overseas in 2007 when his father P Chidambaram was Union finance minister. Both Chidambaram and Karti have denied all allegations made by CBI, as well as the Enforcement Directorate. The CBI initially alleged that Karti received Rs 10 lakh as bribe for facilitating the FIPB clearance to INX Media. It later revised the figure to USD 1 million.