Delhi HC Clarifies Allegations in Contentious Para of Chidambaram’s Bail Order

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Justice Suresh Kait said it is nowhere mentioned in paragraph 40 of the November 15 bail order that the allegations relates to Chidambaram’s case.

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram.

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram. 

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday clarified that allegations mentioned in the contentious paragraph of an order denying bail to P Chidambaram relates to a case of lawyer Rohit Tandon and not of the Congress leader.

Chidambaram is in jail in the INX Media money laundering case.

Justice Suresh Kait said it is nowhere mentioned in paragraph 40 of the November 15 bail order that the allegations relates to Chidambaram’s case.

“Thus, there is no error in the face of it. However, the said paragraph (40) be read as allegations in Rohit Tandon’s case,” the judge said.

The court made the clarification while disposing of an Enforcement Directorate’s plea seeking rectification of the “accidental slip/inadvertent error” in certain paragraphs of the order.

“The stated activity allegedly indulged into by the accused named in the commission of predicate offence is replete with mens rea.

“In that, the concealment, possession, acquisition or use of the property by projecting or claiming it as untainted property and converting the same by bank drafts, would certainly come within the sweep of criminal activity relating to a scheduled offence. That would come within the meaning of Section 3 and punishable under Section 4 of the Act.” Para 40 of the order states.

Chidambaram’s counsel opposed the ED’s application saying it is not maintainable and this court, which passed the bail order, has no power to make any alteration except to clerical and arithmetical errors or mistakes, which is not the case here.

“Inadvertently, it appears that the said factual portion of the judgment relied by the ED instead of being quoted or summarised as the part of the relied upon judgments, have been inadvertently/accidently referred to in the order dated November 15 as the factual submissions made by the ED,” the ED’s application said.

One of the paragraphs in the order stated: “The statements recorded during investigation have evidentiary value under Section 50 PMLA. Prima facie, the version given by them is in consonance with the prosecution case.

“The prosecution has further relied upon call data records, CCTV footage. Account Trend Analysis,” it said.

Central government’s standing counsel Amit Mahajan submitted that the ED in its submission never talked about CCTV footage and this inadvertent error mentioned in the order be rectified.

The court agreed and said, “the words ‘CCTV footage’ not to be read as part of this paragraph”.

Tandon, who was arrested in 2016, is an accused in the demonetisation-related money laundering case.

In the INX Media money laundering case, the ED had arrested 74-year-old Chidambaram on October 16.

He was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case and was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the CBI case on October 22.

The case was registered by the CBI on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED had lodged a money-laundering case in this regard in 2017.

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