INX Media case: ED opposes Chidambaram's statement of bail, says he tried to influence witnesses

NEW DELHI: On Friday he vehemently opposed the declaration of bail of former Union P minister, who is in jail in the case of money laundering of INX Media, saying he has tried to influence and threaten witnesses .

The ED lawyer argued that the body of evidence in the money laundering case and the CBI corruption case is different and the PMLA case is more heinous and much, much, much more serious than it seems.

It is the most serious serious crime, since it is an economic crime that is an independent crime, argued Attorney General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED.

Judge Suresh Kait heard the arguments of the lawyer of ED and Chidambaram and reserved the order on the declaration of bail.

Chidambaram, 74, is in the case of money laundering from INX Media.

The main leader of Congress requested bail and said that, since the evidence is documentary and is in the custody of the research agencies, he cannot manipulate them.

The main lawyer Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Chidambaram, said from the beginning that the case of the investigative agency was never that the leader of the Congress tried to influence the witnesses, but suddenly in October, when he was in custody, it was alleged that He had tried to press. and influence key witnesses.

At first, the judge asked the attorney general how many witnesses the ED examined between October 24 and 30, when Chidambaram was in his custody.

Mehta said three witnesses were summoned during that period and, although two did not appear, the third delivered a handwritten letter and the witness is so scared that he does not want to face Chidambaram.

The higher court noted that Chidambaram's lawyer had argued that until October 24, there was no complaint of witness influence and on October 30, when they requested the extension of their police custody, which was denied by the trial court , the ED argued that he tired of influencing witnesses.

To this, Mehta said that the dispute of influencing witnesses will only come while discussing the bail request and not at the time of seeking police custody.

Three witnesses were influenced and one of them is the person who gave us a handwritten letter. There is evidence that previously also tried to influence, win and threaten witnesses, he presented.

He added: Before October 24 and even during this time, there was an attempt to influence the witnesses. There is destruction of material evidence.

Mehta said he will place in a sealed cover, the handwritten letter of the witness and the court can review it to satisfy his conscience.

When the court asked if the DE had examined the witness in question, he said that after reading the letter, no prudent agency will confront him with the defendant.

He said the investigation conducted so far has covered 16 countries, 12 overseas properties and 15 bank accounts linked to Chidambaram and Letters Rogatory have been sent to several countries.

On the question of whether the superior court can examine the material placed by the agency on a sealed cover, Mehta said the Supreme Court findings are clear and categorical that not only does the court see the evidence, but it is the custodian and the guardian of the interest of justice. .

He said the agency wants to protect his witnesses, as they could be helping him in the investigation.

The ED, in its written response presented through defenders Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, has opposed the declaration of bail, saying that the seriousness of the crimes allegedly committed by Chidambaram does not entitle him to reparation.

Chidambaram, in the statement of bail filed by lawyer Arshdeep Singh, has denied ED's claim that he used the finance minister's office for personal gain and bleached the proceeds of crime, saying that no material has been submitted that link it directly or indirectly with the alleged crime. him so far or put before the court.

The purpose of the opposition of ED to grant bail is not to advance the cause of justice but to damage his health, which has already suffered serious damage after 75 days of custody since August 21, he said.

Chidambaram referred to the order of the Supreme Court of October 22 that granted him bail in the CBI case and said he had declared that there was no evidence of tampering, risk of escape and influencing witnesses against him in the case of corruption.

Chidambaram, who was granted bail on October 22 in the case of corruption of the INX media, is housed in Tihar prison under judicial custody in the ED money laundering case.

On November 1, the superior court, while having the provisional declaration of bail of Chidambaram, who suffered from Crohn's disease, had ordered the superintendent of the Tihar prison to provide him with a clean and hygienic environment and also mineral water , homemade food and mosquito protection nets and repellent

Chidambaram had requested an advance bond in the money laundering case of the higher court that dismissed the statement. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court, which also refused to grant reparation.

The ED arrested him in the case of money laundering on October 16. He was arrested by the IWC on August 21 in the case of corruption of INX Media.

The case was registered by the IWC on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in an authorization of the Board of Foreign Investment Promotion (FIPB) granted to the INX Media group for receiving funds abroad of Rs 305 million rupees in 2007 , during the mandate of Chidambaram as finance minister.

Subsequently, the DE had presented a case of money laundering in this regard in 2017.