INX media case: SC extends Chidambaram’s CBI custody till Sept 5

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that former Union Minister P Chidambaram will remain in CBI custody till September 5.

The CBI special court, earlier on September 2, extended the custody of Chidambaram by one day.

A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi told Chidambaram’s legal team comprising senior advocate Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi that they shouldn’t press the bail application before the trial court.

Both lawyers agreed and told the bench that they will not press for interim bail before the trial court till the apex court passes the order.

Opposing extension of CBI custody, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that CBI doesn’t want his custody.

“Just because one man doesn’t want to be placed in judicial custody, why should this court pass any order?” asks Mehta while indicating that the former minister should be sent to Tihar under judicial custody.

Mehta also said Chidambaram’s counsel pressed before the trial court that the interim bail plea should be decided on Monday itself and the trial judge issued a notice to the CBI asking it to file a response within 24 hours.

“The matter is listed for hearing today before the trial court at 3.30 pm. Less than 24-hour notice was given to the CBI to respond to the interim bail plea which was filed 13 days after his arrest. This should not be the procedure,” he told the bench.

The case will now be taken up on September 5, when the Supreme Court will pronounce its order on Chidambaram’s plea seeking protection from arrest from Enforcement Directorate.

“The present status will continue till then. CBI’s custody will be extended till day after tomorrow (September 5),” the bench said.

Mehta then told the bench: “If we don’t take his custody then the law must take its course. We don’t need his custody.”

Both Sibal and Singhvi opposed Mehta’s submissions and said that if Chidambaram is sent to jail under judicial custody then his plea pending before the apex court would become infructuous.

Sibal told the bench that they would not press for the interim bail plea before the trial court today and Chidambaram’s CBI custody should be extended till September 5.

The bench, while posting Chidambaram’s plea for hearing on September 5, said that it would decide the matter on Thursday itself.

However, ED stressed the need of custodial interrogation of Chidambaram to unearth the larger conspiracy in the INX Media money case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act or PMLA and had told the bench that it cannot show the material collected during the investigation to Chidambaram at this stage as the evidence related to money trail of layers of money might be erased.

The apex court is also scheduled to pronounce its order on September 5 on Chidambaram’s separate plea in which he has challenged the August 20 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him anticipatory bail in the INX Media money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate.

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