By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2019-12-04 13:17:35
The Supreme Court has finally granted bail to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case. The court was of the view that although economic offences come under the purview of grave crimes since bail, not jail is the rule, it cannot be denied just on the presumption that the alleged wrongdoer, being an influential person, was in a position to influence witnesses and tamper with evidence. The court granted him bail against personal bond and sureties and imposed the usual restrictions.
The bench headed by Justice R Bhanumati took a personal bond of Rs 2 lakhs and two sureties of an equal amount. It also put the usual restrictions on foreign travel for which Chidambaram would have to take the courtâs permission. It also warned him not to tamper with evidence or influence witnesses. It needs reminding that Chidambaram spent 106 days in jail as the ED argued that he had committed grave offences and misused his office and was likely to tamper with evidence and influence witnesses as he still wielded a lot of influence in the corridors of power given past positions held by him. The Delhi High Court had earlier refused to grant him bail.
In this respect, it needs to be said that the Delhi High Court should have taken the same line as now taken by the apex court. Chidambaram should have been granted bail then. The ED, apart from showing circumstantial evidence and properties that are allegedly held benami by the Chidambaram family, was not able to directly link the wrongdoings to Chidambaram. Hence, it is wrong to hold a person in captivity just on assumption of guilt or on the excuse that he might tamper with evidence or influence witnesses. In any case, if Chidambaram is found to do anything like that, the ED can lodge a complaint, obtain a warrant and arrest him again.