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‘Copy paste’ finger at Chidambaram order

Kapil Sibal cited how the high court had initially given Chidambaram interim protection on July 24 last year in the ED case

By R. Balaji in New Delhi
  • Published 24.08.19, 3:23 AM
  • Updated 24.08.19, 3:23 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Chidambaram outside the court on Thursday. (AP)

P. Chidambaram’s counsel on Friday assailed Delhi High Court’s order denying anticipatory bail to their client, telling the Supreme Court the judge had merely “copy pasted” an old Enforcement Directorate note to explain the decision.

Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram along with fellow senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, cited how the high court had initially given Chidambaram interim protection on July 24 last year in the ED case.

He said the government counsel had then sought more time to reply to Chidambaram’s petition.

“But till date no affidavit was filed by the ED and the matter has been disposed of without an affidavit. The judgment was reserved in January and after the arguments were over, the ED handed over a written note to the judge,” Sibal said.

“The high court judge has copy pasted paragraphs from the ED’s written note in his judgment denying pre-arrest bail…. Paragraphs 12 to 20 of the judgment are copy pasted from the ED note, without any evidence.”

He wondered how the high court could go by a mere note that was not even a sworn affidavit, had remain unverified, and to which Chidambaram had had no opportunity to reply.

“And the note becomes a basis of the judgment to refuse bail,” Sibal said. “Even the adjectives and words used in the judgment are similar to the ones used in the ED’s note.”

Singhvi told the bench that it was only a case of anticipatory bail, yet the high court judge had gone to the length of recommending that Parliament do away with the provision of anticipatory bail in high-profile cases of cheating.

“Now, (decisions on) bail would be based on the profile of any accused! If courts now — on a mere note handed over by ED counsel without it being on an affidavit — decide to cut, paste and deny me bail, then how can I even think of getting bail?”

Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, however, read out from portions of the judgment in which the high court, he said, had called Chidambaram the “kingpin” of the alleged crime.

He said the investigating agency could not provide the full details of its ongoing probe because the chargesheet was yet to be filed, but it had provided a broad categorisation of the evidence.

“The evidence is in electronic form. Searches were conducted and emails scanned. (The) FIBP approval was signed by him (Chidambaram). The money travelled through money-laundering,” Mehta said.

He argued that Chidambaram needed to be confronted with “the email exchanges recovered”, so his ED custody was necessary.

“Illegitimate money is never received in the account of the accused. There were shell companies created by people who during investigation were found to be closely linked to the petitioner (Chidambaram),” he said.

“Shell companies are not only operating in India but are created abroad. I am saying this on the basis of original documents that I have and can place before this court.”

Mehta said the investigations had so far revealed a money trail in the name of these shell companies.

“We have found 10 immovable properties… and 17 bank accounts in other countries,” he said.

He added that those in whose names the shell companies had been created had executed wills in favour of the granddaughter of the accused and that this evidence had been destroyed.

“We need to confront the accused with this evidence. There are certain individuals and considering their background and level of mental faculties, they will never divulge the true facts if they are under the protective umbrella of anticipatory bail,” Mehta said.