New Delhi: Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday failed to get relief from the Supreme Court in INX Media case as his Special Leave Petition (SLP) could not be listed in the court due to some defects.
The Congress leader's petition seeking a pre-arrest bail was not cleared by the Supreme Court registry as it had certain defects. Earlier, a bench headed by senior-most judge Justice NV Ramana referred Chidambaram's plea to Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.
CJI Gogoi, however, had commenced hearing in the Ayodhya dispute case due to which Chidambaram's counsel Kapil Sibal was unable to mention the matter before him for urgent hearing. After lunch, Sibal again mentioned the matter before Justice Ramana saying it had not been listed yet.
"We have no other option other than coming before you as the matter has still not been listed," he said. On asked by the judge the Registrar said that there were defects in the petition, which have been rectified now and it will be listed. Justice Ramana said that the matter is not listed yet so he cannot hear it. "We have done all that we can. We have considered your request and directed the registry to list it. Without listing, we cannot hear the case," he said.
Kapil Sibal also said that he can give the undertaking that Chidambaram will not go away. "This is not our job, this is the maximum we can do. Without listing the matter can we hear the matter? Is your person running away?" Justice Ramana asked.
Sibal said that the court has been protecting people on oral mentioning as well. "A lookout notice has been issued against him. He is not the man to run away. Our person is not running away. We can also give an undertaking for it," he said. Sibal said that the CJI will rise only at 4 pm which means the matter will not be heard today.
Justice Ramana said that these things are usually done by the evening. "We have done all that we could do. You have to wait." Earlier in the day, CBI and ED filed caveats in the Supreme Court over Chidambaram's plea seeking protection from arrest in the INX media case.
With the caveat being filed, the apex court cannot pass any order on the former finance minister's plea without hearing the probe agencies.
Chidambaram was unable to get immediate relief after a three-judge bench of the top court sent the file of Chidambaram's petition seeking pre-arrest bail to the CJI for passing an order on the listing of the case.
The Congress leader's lawyers had moved the apex court against Tuesday's Delhi High Court order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea regarding cases filed by the CBI and the ED related to the alleged INX Media scam. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the plea of Chidambaram and said this is a case of money laundering of monumental magnitude.
ED had also issued a lookout notice against Chidambaram on Tuesday evening shortly after teams of the probe agency went to the former finance minister's residence but were unable to find him. The Delhi High Court had, in its order, said that the grant of bail in cases like this will send a wrong message to the society.
"It cannot be forgotten that the petitioner was the FM at the relevant time and he had given FDI clearances to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore. Facts of the case prima facie reveal that petitioner is the kingpin, i.e., the key conspirator in this case. Law enforcing agencies cannot be made ineffective by putting legal obstacles of offences in question," the order read.
However, Chidambaram, in his petition, said that he granted approval to INX Media's proposal in the "normal course of official business". "In May 2007, a bunch of proposals, including the INX Media case, was placed before the Finance Minister. He granted approval in the normal course of official business," read the petition.
The Congress leader said that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which was constituted in order to promote foreign investment in the country, unanimously approved the proposal of INX Media for approval for FDI. In 2007, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered an FIR alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.
Based on the FIR, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case against him.
Chidambaram's son Karti has also been named in the two cases. He was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI and was later released on bail. The ED had attached properties belonging to him. On July 4, a Delhi court had allowed Indrani Mukerjee, the former head of the INX Media, to turn an approver in the CBI case.
The agency had submitted that it has come across evidence in the form of conversations which only Indrani Mukerjea is privy to and will help consolidate the case.