In a setback to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Delhi High Court today granted bail to Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, in INX media case.
Justice SP Garg directed him to furnish a surety of Rs 10 lakh and imposed additional conditions including that he will seek prior permission of the CBI if he wants to leave the country. His passport is already deposited with the authorities, his lawyers had earlier told the court.
Karti was arrested on February 28 by the CBI on his return from the United Kingdom, and his 12-day judicial custody was to expire tomorrow in the case.
The court also said that while out on bail, Karti will not tamper with any evidence in the case.
The CBI had opposed his bail plea on the grounds that he has "already destroyed evidence" in the case and was an "influential" person.
Karti's counsel had argued that no case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was made out against him since the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had neither questioned any public servant, nor made them an accused in the matter.
Karti's lawyers had denied allegations of tampering with evidence and added that when the CBI had not sought his further custodial interrogation, why should he be kept in judicial custody.
He was arrested from Chennai in connection with an FIR lodged on May 15 last year, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media for receiving funds of about Rs 305 crore from overseas in 2007 when his father was the Union finance minister.
The CBI had initially alleged that Karti received Rs 10 lakh as a bribe for facilitating the FIPB clearance to INX Media. It had later revised the figure to USD 1 million (about Rs 6.50 crore at the current exchange rate and Rs 4.5 crore in 2007).
The fresh evidence in the case, which triggered Karti's arrest, was based on a statement of Indrani Mukerjea, former director of INX Media (P) Ltd, who recorded it under Section 164 of the CrPC before a magistrate on February 17. Indrani is currently lodged in a Mumbai prison in connection with the case of murder of her daughter Sheena Bora.
In the separate money laundering case arising out of the corruption matter, the high court had on March 9 directed the Enforcement Directorate not to arrest or take any coercive action against Karti.
The protection was later extended by the high court till March 22. Subsequently, the Supreme Court had transferred the ED case to itself.