The Supreme Court has granted bail to former Union Minister P Chidambaram in the money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). After 105 days in jail, Chidambaram can now breathe in open air.
The bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, granted the former home and finance minister bail on a bond of Rs 2 lakh. However, he will have to seek permission from the court to leave the country.
Chidambaram has been prohibited from making any statement in the media about the INX Media case. On 28 November, the court had reserved the verdict after hearing the arguments of all the parties.
The Supreme Court directed Chidambaram to cooperate in the investigation. The apex court said that its decision would not affect the case of the other accused.
The court said that it did not want to see the sealed envelope that the Delhi High Court had already studied. Chidambaram had but challenged the high court order.
Chidambaram has already got bail in the case filed by CBI. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Salman Khurshid and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta were present in the court at the time when the UPA-era home and finance minister was granted bail.
During the hearing, the ED opposed Chidambaram’s bail plea. The solicitor-general said on behalf of the ED that Chidambaram had asked why he was being treated like a regular criminal. The answer is that, Mehta said, the severity of this crime affects society.
Mehta said that if the bell is granted, the ordinary citizen’s faith in the criminal justice system will be affected. The accused used to be the finance minister of the country who still wields a lot of influence, the solicitor-general contended.
Mehta said that one of the witnesses had refused to confront Chidambaram, saying the former minister was very influential.
Reminding the Supreme Court of an exclamation by Sibal on Chidambaram, Mehta inquired whether the system would wake up only if the crime was as heinous as that of rapists and murderers Ranga and Billa. But for all these arguments, Chidambaram was granted bail today.