23 August 2019
New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram's lawyer on Friday alleged that the Delhi High Court order, denying him anticipatory bail in the INX Media case, was a "cut-copy-paste job" from an Enforcement Directorate note submitted by the Solicitor General, who represents both the ED and the CBI.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, told the bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi: "If a court does a cut-copy-paste job of a note, which is against my client, what are the chances that I can get relief from it? And, this was done after reserving the judgement for seven months."
He argued, in the packed courtroom, that Chidambaram's right to liberty was suspended, as he was apparently denied an opportunity to challenge the Delhi High Court order.
Sibal said this note played a crucial role in influencing the final order passed by the Delhi High Court, without filing even an affidavit. Asking how this note could become the basis to deny bail, and virtually became an order, when in fact the paragraphs copied from the note concerned the allegations against Chidabaram's son Karti Chidambaram, he argued.
The ED note is part of the case diary.
"Certain paragraphs of ED note were pasted as it is in the High Court order, comma to comma, full stop to full stop, word by word and para by para," Sibal said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for Chidambaram, contended before the court that the High Court's "mind was working to deny bail" to his client, and the aspect of cheating and conspiracy comes at a later stage and not at the stage of anticipatory bail.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta denied these charge and termed it a baseless accusation to malign a judge. Justice Banumathi then intervened and asked Sibal to stick to the merits of the case.
Mehta, appearing for the Centre, argued that the Delhi High Court referred Chidambaram as the "kingpin", after considering the gravity of the offence, and it is apparent from the case diaries.
"Gravity of the offence was the base to deny him anticipatory bail," he submitted, adding that "there are certain individuals who will never divulge the truth if they are under the umbrella of anticipatory bail".
He said that in its order, the court recorded arguments by the ED, which maintained it has collected innumerable documents/evidence to show that the money has been transferred from one company to another shell company and Chidambaram has various properties in India and various other countries in the name of shell companies and also has bank accounts in banks abroad in the name of shell companies.
Therefore, custodial interrogation is necessary for unravelling the truth, Mehta added.
The court will conduct the further hearing on the matter on August 26.