PC comes out of jail after 106 days as SC grants bail
The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Congress leader P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case, being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.
Chidambaram was released from Tihar Jail on Wednesday night after106 days in the prison. Several Congress workers greeted the former Union Minister after he stepped out of the prison.
The SC said ED’s contention that Chidambaram can tamper with evidence cannot be accepted on “face value” as he is neither in “political power” nor holds any post in the Government.
While granting bail to 74-year-old former Finance Minister, the apex court restrained him from either giving “any press interviews” or “any public comment” in connection with the case regarding him or other co-accused.
On ED’s contention that one of the witnesses was not prepared to be confronted with him as they are from the same State, the top court said Chidambaram “cannot be held responsible” for this when there was no material to indicate that he or anyone on his behalf had “restrained or threatened” the witness.
While setting aside the November 15 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him bail in the case, the SC bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said Chidambaram will have to make him available for interrogation during further probe as and when required by the ED.
The bench, also comprising justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, said Chidambaram “shall not tamper with evidence or attempt to intimidate or influence the witnesses” and not leave the country without specific orders of trial court.
Chidambaram would be released on bail on executing bail bonds of Rs 2 lakh with two sureties of like amount, the SC bench said.
“In the present situation the appellant is not in political power nor is he holding any post in the Government of the day so as to be in a position to interfere. In that view such allegation cannot be accepted on its face value,” the bench said while dealing with ED’s submissions that possibility of tampering with evidence cannot be ruled out.
The bench said though the economic offences have been said to be of grave nature, “the basic jurisprudence relating to bail remains the same in as much as the grant of bail is the rule and refusal is the exception so as to ensure that the accused has the opportunity of securing fair trial”.
The bench said it “disapprove” the manner in which conclusions were recorded in certain paragraphs of High Court verdict in which “observations are reflected to be in the nature of finding relating to the alleged offence”.
It said that finding recorded by high court based on the material placed before it in sealed cover was not justified.
Reacting to the development, the Congress said that truth has finally prevailed.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said Chidambaram’s over 100 days of incarceration was “vengeful and vindictive”, while expressing confidence that he will be able to prove his innocence in a fair trial.
Chidambaram’s son Karti heaved a sigh of relief, tweeting, “Phew. At last after 106 days. (sic)”
Later, talking to reporters, he said, “I am very happy that my father is coming home. It has been a long wait; it has been an unwanted incarceration.”
Several party leaders welcomed the order granting bail to the former Union Minister with Chidambaram’s lawyer and Congress colleague Abhishek Manu Singhvi describing the ruling as “excellent light after a rather long tunnel”.
“Truth finally prevails. #SatyamevaJayate,” tweeted the party from its official handle.
Thursday, 05 December 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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