The Delhi High Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest to former Union minister P Chidambaram's son Karti in INX media money laundering case. The next case of hearing is March 20.
Justice S Ravindra Bhat, who heard the matter in a packed courtroom from 10.30 am to 1.15 pm, also made it clear that if the special court grants Karti Chidambaram bail in the corruption case the CBI has registered against him, the Enforcement Directorate will not arrest him till the next hearing before the high court.
The court said that if the trial court decides to grant bail to Karti in the CBI case, then it may impose conditions such as the accused shall appear before the ED as and when called for the investigation and cooperate in the probe. He may also be directed not to leave the country and surrender his passport, the high court said.
While granting the protection, the court said that it was yet to decide the Constitutional validity of section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act which deals with the power of arrest of the ED under the statute.
In his plea, Karti, who was arrested by the CBI at Chennai Airport on February 28, claimed that he had never attempted to influence witnesses, tamper with documentary evidence, pollute or obstruct the judicial process as was alleged by the probe agency.
Earlier, he sought bail from the court alleging that the CBI was acting at the behest of the Centre to malign the reputation of his father during whose tenure Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance was granted to the INX Media group.
Karti contended that his arrest was "illegal and arbitrary" but the agency opposed his bail plea, saying the investigation was at a crucial stage and his custodial interrogation was necessary to unearth the entire conspiracy in the INX Media corruption case.
The CBI had lodged an FIR on May 15 last year alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister.
The agency has alleged that Karti had received funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh in the case.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also registered a money laundering case in the INX Media case.
- With agency inputs