Chidambaram walks out of jail after 106 days

After 106 days of incarceration in connection with the INX Media case, former finance minister P Chidambaram walked out of Tihar jail as the Supreme Court granted bail with a few conditions.

Chidambaram, a Rajya Sabha MP, is expected to be back to Parliament on Thursday morning taking on the government over the state of the economy but as per the apex court’s order he will not be able to make any media statements on the INX Media case.

The Supreme Court also imposed restrictions on his travel abroad and the former Union minister will have to take written permission from the court before leaving the country. The court directed Chidambaram to furnish a bail bond of Rs.2 lakh along with two sureties of the same amount. Even as the court order came by noon, paperwork at the Tihar Jail went on till late in the evening.

While granting bail, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said, “Economic offences are grave offences. Courts have to be sensitive to the nature of the case…. It is not a rule that bail should be denied in every case. Delhi High Court was justified in denying bail relating to gravity of the offence. However, we disapprove of the Delhi High Court making observations on the merits of the case.”

Arguing against his release, the Enforcement Directorate claimed that Chidambaram continues to hold ‘substantial influence’ on crucial witnesses in the INX Media case even while being lodged in jail. Taking into account the agency’s apprehension, the Supreme Court has barred Chidambaram from getting in touch with any of the witnesses in the case.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared on behalf of the ED, argued that economic offences like money laundering are ‘grave’ in nature as they not only affect the nation's economy but also ‘shake people's faith in the system, especially when it is committed by people in power’.

Chidambaram responded that the ED cannot destroy his career and reputation by making baseless allegations as there was no evidence against him. His advocates and party colleagues, Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, pointed out that there was no evidence linking Chidambaram directly or indirectly with the alleged offence and also there was no proof to show that he had influenced witnesses or tampered with any evidence.

Chidambaram’s son Karti welcomed the move and tweeted, “Phew. At last after 106 days.” Karti told reporters, adding that Chidambaram could be expected in Parliament at 11 am on Thursday.

“Mr P Chidambaram’s 106-day incarceration was vengeful and vindictive. I'm glad that the SC has granted him bail. I'm confident that he will be able to prove his innocence in a fair trial,” former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Taking jibes at the Chidambaram, BJP spokespersons Sambit Patra and GVL Narasimha Rao said that this was addition to the ‘out-on-bail’ gang in Congress citing the examples of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Shashi Tharoor and others.

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