Chidambaram appeals to SC for bail with ‘Ranga-Billa’ argument

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New Delhi: Former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that if courts start applying the test of gravity of offence, the accused will stay in jail forever.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing on behalf of Chidambaram seeking bail in the INX media case pointed out to the bench that the high court rejecting his bail request is bad in law.

Chidambaram, who had already spent 98 days in custody, through his lawyer said, “There is no document connecting me to the case. All the other accused are out on bail or have not been arrested. Yet, I am the kingpin. According to them, corruption money of Rs 10 lakh was allegedly paid to Karti Chidambaram and since I am Karti Chidambaram’s father, I am the kingpin.”

Pointing towards a high court observation on holding Chidambaram in jail lest it sends a wrong message, Sibal said on behalf of his client, “It is as if I am some Ranga-Billa. If I am not released on bail, it will send a wrong message to this country.”

Ranga and Billa were two criminals who came to Delhi after their release from Arthur Road jail. They kidnapped two teenagers in the national capital and then brutally killed them in August 1978. Both were later caught and hanged in 1982.

“If their (court’s) argument of gravity of offence is accepted, then I will never get bail,” Sibal told the bench led by Justice R Banumathi.

When it comes to the allegation against Chidambaram, his legal team said unlike in offences such as murder where one knows that the offence has been committed, “in this case we don’t even know if there is an offence which has been committed or not. The offence is yet to be established.”

The arguments remained inconclusive and will continue on Thursday when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing on behalf of ED will put forth his arguments.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case. The CBI had alleged irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister.

He has been granted bail in the CBI case by the apex court but is in jail over a related money laundering case investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

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