New Delhi: The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce on Wednesday its judgement on senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram’s bail plea in the INX Media money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate.
On November 28, a bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi had reserved judgement on the appeal filed by Chidambaram challenging the November 15 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him bail.
The apex court had allowed the ED to submit three sets of sealed covers in the two volumes. “The Registry is directed to receive the sealed cover and keep them in safe custody for perusal of the court, if required,” the court said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, told the court that Chidambaram is extremely influential even from custody, while senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the former Union Minister, told the bench that the ED cannot orally prejudice the court against the grant of bail.
Sibal told the court that alleged emails, bank transactions indicating at money laundering have been said to be connected to Chidambaram, but where is the evidence to link all these with him? “Show one piece of evidence… you cannot destroy reputations,” he contended.
Attacking the ED case against Chidambaram, the senior lawyer said that the ED should show one property, one bank account and one telephone call, which establishes Chidambaram is involved in the case, insisting that “the entire case is nothing beyond allegations”.
On the other hand, Mehta told a three-judge bench headed by Justice Banumathi that whether in custody or not, former Finance Minister Chidambaram is powerful enough to wield influence on witnesses involved in the case. “One of the witnesses has written a letter, and the other two have requested, please do not bring us face to face with him….in fact, his presence may influence the prosecution,” he contended.
Citing the gravity of the economic offences, Mehta told the court that the entire world is facing the menace of money laundering.
Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, that the ED probe has uncovered 12 bank accounts where proceeds of crime were deposited and the agency has also gathered the details of 12 properties, with specific addresses, which have been together tracked down in 16 countries. He also told the apex court that economic offence is a separate class of offence graver than murder, and it is a white collar crime, which has the potential to shake the faith of the common man in the establishment.