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Suspense over P Chidambaram’s impending arrest; CJI likely to be approached by senior Congress lawyers today

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P Chidambaram

The Suspense over P Chidambaram’s impending arrest continues as Justice NV Ramana sends the file to Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi to hear the urgent mentioning of the Congress leader’s bail plea. The plea has been made by senior Congress party leaders and senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Chidambaram’s petition came up for hearing at 10:30 am today before the senior most judge who is not on the Constitution bench.

The three-judge Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana asked Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, to approach CJI Ranjan Gogoi with the plea.

CJI Ranjan Gogoi is presently on the Constitution bench that is conducting daily hearings in the Ayodhya land dispute case.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the investigation agencies, called the INX media case a case of money laundering of “monumental magnitude” while opposing any relief sought by Chidambaram’s lawyers.

The Delhi High Court (HC) on Tuesday refused to grant any protection to Chidambaram from arrest. He also failed to get an audience from the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday for an urgent hearing of his appeal in the Supreme Court (SC) against the Delhi HC order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.

Delhi HC Justice Sunil Gaur made some sharp observations while refusing Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail, holding him to be the “prima facie kingpin” in the INX Media bribery case and commented that his being an MP was not enough reason to grant a pre-arrest bail. “This would send a wrong message to society,” the court said.

Chidambaram has denied the allegations, saying he was being targeted by the BJP for political reasons. The HC, however, rejected his claim. “It is preposterous to say the prosecution of Chidambaram is baseless, politically motivated and an act of vendetta. This is a classic case of money laundering,” Justice Gaur was quoted as saying.

Hours after the rejection of P Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail application, a CBI team reached his Jor Bagh residence in south Delhi at around 6.45 pm only to find him missing. Moments after the CBI team left his residence, a team of ED officials reached Chidambaram’s residence to arrest him for offences related to the INX Media case.

Finally, around midnight, the CBI pasted a notice that read: “Whereas it appears that you are acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case noted below, which I am now investigating under Chapter XII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, you are hereby directed to attend before me within two hours of the receipt of this notice for the purpose of investigation of case.”

At present, the probe agencies are free to take Chidambaram into custody in absence of any protection from arrest. This makes Chidambaram the most senior Congress leader in history to face the prospect of imminent arrest.

Chidambaram’s role, when he was finance minister in UPA-1, came under the scanner of various investigating agencies in the INX Media case and the Aircel-Maxis deal, both of which had got clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

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