Congress leader and former union finance minister P Chidambaram was on Friday granted protection from arrest by the Supreme Court till August 26 in the money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate in the INX Media case.
However, Chidambaram will continue to be in custody as the apex court, did not intervene in the CBI case in which he has been sent for custodial interrogation of the agency till Monday. A bench comprising justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna posted both the matters for hearing on Monday, August 26.
The hearing witnessed heated exchange of words between prosecution counsel and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate and Chidambaram's party colleagues Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi. SG Mehta vehemently opposed the order granting protection from arrest to Chidambaram in the money laundering case registered by the ED.
The apex court was hearing two separate petitions filed by Chidambaram challenging the Delhi High Court August 20 verdict by which his anticipatory bail was dismissed in the cases registered by both the agencies-- CBI and ED. In the CBI case, a special court on Thursday sent Chidambaram for custodial interrogation after he was arrested on the night of August 21.
Mehta said that Chidambaram cannot be arrested in the ED case till Monday as he is already in the custody of the CBI and a person cannot be arrested simultaneously by two agencies.
Chidambaram, who was Union home minister and also finance minister during the UPA rule from 2004 to 2014, was arrested on Wednesday night after he failed to get protection from the Supreme Court, which did not list for an urgent hearing his appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict dismissing his anticipatory bail plea on Tuesday.
The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister. Thereafter, the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.