New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's legal team gave a tough fight to a battery of senior lawyers engaged by former Finance Minister and senior advocate P. Chidambaram to defend him in cases registered by CBI and ED in the INX Media scam.
The team of the country's second-highest law officer fought tooth and nail on various legal provisions and contested their opposition's legal arguments with fervour. Finally on Thursday, a trial court ordered Chidambaram sent to Tihar Jail till September 19 in judicial custody.
According to a source, this week was very crucial, as Chidambaram's CBI custody was coming to end, and the agency did not intend to hold him any longer. Mehta had last week already argued for nearly two days against Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea in the case of money-laundering registered by the Enforcement Directorate in the scam.
"We prepared very hard for this matter. Everything had to be pieced together and required to be presented in a consistent manner before the court to deny relief to the opposite party," said the source. Like a mini-trial, the hearing on the anticipatory bail went for four days in the apex court.
Mehta had vehemently opposed any relief to the former Finance Minister, and on Thursday, the apex court declined anticipatory bail to Chidambaram.
The court observed that a case of money-laundering involves many stages of "placement", "layering i.e. funds moved to other institutions to conceal origin" and "interrogation i.e. funds used to acquire various assets", and requires systematic and analyzed investigation. Success in such interrogation would elude if the accused knows that he is protected by a pre-arrest bail order, it said.
The Enforcement Directorate claimed it has specific inputs from various sources, including overseas banks, and the department has received some response on the Letter Rogatory it issued to various foreign countries. Therefore, the investigating agency has to be given sufficient freedom in the process of investigation. The court took on record Mehta's contention that economic offences harm the economy, and the country.
On Monday, in the pre-lunch session, senior advocate Kapil Sibal and his team had convinced Justice R. Banumathi to extend Chidambaram's CBI custody till Thursday. Mehta was not present during this argument. Coming to the court post-lunch, he sought modification of its order, and insisted on having the hearing of the matter of Chidambaram's challenge to his arrest and custody, on Tuesday instead of Thursday.
Mehta informed the court that the period for custodial remand would end on Tuesday, and keeping Chidambaram in custody beyond it would certainly lead to jurisdictional difficulties. Although, the judge told him that regular matters listed before the court were already suffering due to one matter, Mehta insisted that this is an important matter and there will be difficulty in the implementation of the apex court order. Finally, he succeeded in convincing the apex court and the matter was heard on Tuesday where the court extended the CBI custody till Thursday.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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