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INX Media scam: Will Karti be bailed out?

Chidambaram has challenged in the Supreme Court, an order of the high court dismissing his anticipatory bail plea in the INX Media cases

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday said it will hear in December ED’s plea seeking the cancellation of bail of Karti Chidambaram’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman in connection with INX Media money laundering case.

The Enforcement Directorate informed Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri that the Supreme Court has reserved its order for 5 September on former finance minister P Chidambaram’s petition challenging the Delhi High Court’s decision to dismiss his anticipatory bail plea.

Karti, his father P Chidambaram and Bhaskararaman are accused in the money laundering case. Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, representing ED, urged the court to take up the matter only after the apex court passes an order on Chidambaram’s plea as it relates to the same case. The high court listed the matter for further hearing on 5 December.

The court had on 10 April last year sought the response of Bhaskararaman on the ED’s plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to him by a special court in March 2018, in connection with INX Media money laundering case. Chidambaram has challenged in the Supreme Court, the 20 August order of the high court dismissing his anticipatory bail plea in the INX Media cases lodged by the CBI and ED. He was arrested on 21 August and is currently in CBI’s custody.

The apex court is scheduled to pronounce on 5 September, its order on Chidambaram’s plea in the ED case. In the high court, the ED has challenged the special court’s 13 March 2018 order granting bail to Bhaskararaman, who was accused of assisting Karti to manage his “ill-gotten wealth” in India and abroad.

“He committed a serious crime and has not cooperated with investigation. The investigation conducted so far shows deep involvement of the accused in committing the offence of money laundering and shielding other accused persons who are part of the deep-rooted conspiracy,” the ED said in its plea. Bhaskararaman was granted bail with the special court saying there were no specific allegations against him except that he aided Karti in committing the crime.

The Sessions Court, while granting the relief to Bhaskararaman who was arrested by the ED on 16 February 2018 from a five-star hotel here, had observed that the “personal liberty is of precious value” and “bail cannot be withheld as a punishment”. The CA was sent to jail on 26 February last year after his custodial interrogation by the ED.

Karti’s name had cropped up in the case relating to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) approval granted in 2007 for receipt of funds by INX Media when his father and Congress leader, Chidambaram, was the finance minister during the previous UPA regime.

The ED had alleged that INX Media had deliberately and in violation of the conditions of approval made a downstream investment of 26% in the capital of INX News Pvt Ltd without the specific approval of FIPB, which included indirect foreign investment by some foreign investors, and generated Rs 305 crore foreign direct investment in INX Media Pvt Ltd against the approved foreign inflow of Rs 4.62 crore. To wriggle out of the situation without any punitive action, INX Media entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti, the ED had alleged.

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