The Supreme Court today refused to stay a summon order issued by the Enforcement Directorate against Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case, after the CBI said he was "not a common criminal" but his plea for quashing the notice was a guise for an anticipatory bail plea.
However, the top court asked Karti to request the competent authority for postponement of ED summons seeking his appearance on March 1.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices Amitava Roy and D Y Chandrachud said it will hear the matter on March 6 after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Karti Chidambaram, sought time to file a proper application to challenge the ED proceedings.
During the brief hearing, Sibal said Karti was not a common criminal that he was being called by the ED "month after month" and made to sit for "hours and hours".
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, said that ED was not a party before the apex court and the respondent (Karti) should file a proper application challenging the proceedings in the money laundering case.
"I agree that he (Karti) is not a common criminal. But has the court allowed a common criminal to move such an application? This is sheer abuse of the process of law," Mehta said and added that his plea for stay of the summon was "a guise of anticipatory bail application."
Sibal said Karti had appeared twice before the ED on January 18 and February 15 and was made to sit for hours.
"They have details of my bank accounts and property. They have all my details. I am not running away but still they issued summon for appearance on March 1. I will be returning to India on February 28 and then on March 1, I have to appear before the agency. What is this going on," he asked.
The senior advocate said the ED case emanated from the same CBI case but there was no predicate offence as there was no proceeds of crime.
Mehta again objected to the submission saying that without the ED being a party before the court, there can be no arguments in the case.
When Sibal asked "So, are you planning to arrest him," Mehta responded saying "I not saying that he will be arrested".
"This is CBI's case which is listed today. There can be no argument on the ED matter. He just wants a pre-emptive order to prevent the Enforcement Directorate from moving ahead," Mehta told the court.
Sibal then told the court that the summon should be postponed till the time a proper application is filed to challenge the ED proceedings. The ASG then intervened urging the court not to make any observations but simply adjourn the matter.
To this, the court asked Mehta whether the summons can be postponed or not.
Mehta replied that if Karti makes a formal request, then the agency may look into it.
The court then told Sibal that Karti has to make a request to the competent authority to defer the summons and then posted the matter for further hearing on March 6.
The ED had registered a case against him and others in May last year. It had registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED's equivalent of a police FIR, against the accused named in a CBI complaint, including Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors -- Peter and Indrani Mukerjea.