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Chidambaram gets bail, to attend Parliament today

Chidambaram gets bail, to attend Parliament today

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday evening walked out of Tihar Jail here amid throngs of Congress supporters chanting slogans of support for him. The Rajya Sabha MP is expected to show up in Parliament on Thursday, after his son Karti, a Lok Sabha MP himself, told reporters that his father would attend Rajya Sabha. As the first order of business after being released, the Congress leader went to meet with his party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Walking out after 105 days of incarceration, the 74-year-old Congress veteran said "not one charge (was) framed against me" during that duration. He also added that he would abide by the top court's order and not comment on the case.

Special CBI judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar, who is hearing the INX Media case, on Wednesday duly issued Chidambaram's release warrant after having received the Supreme Court's bail order and accepted the bail bond and sureties as prescribed by the Apex Court. Judge Kuhar also noted that Chidambaram's passport is already in the court's custody in the CBI case.

A three-judge bench of Justices R Banumathi, A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy had earlier in the day granted the Congress leader bail in the ED's INX Media money-laundering case, finally paving the way for him to spend the New Year with his family after having had to spend his 74th birthday in Tihar.

The judgment, authored by Justice Bopanna on behalf of the bench, also rebuked the Delhi High Court for denying bail to him in the case. The top court said: "We disapprove the manner in which the conclusions recorded in paragraphs 57 to 62 wherein the observations are reflected to be in nature of finding related to the alleged offence". The court also noted that this was because as Chidambaram's counsel had pointed out, certain paragraphs from the ED's counter-affidavit were recorded as findings of the court in the High Court's judgment.

Moreover, the Supreme Court bench also ruled that Chidambaram was not in a position to interfere with the case as he is "not in political power nor is he holding any post in the Government of the day". As far as the witness statement that probe agencies claimed would show Chidambaram trying to influence witnesses, the top court said that this witness had declined to be confronted with the politician as they hailed from the same state and as such "the appellant (Chidambaram) cannot be held responsible for the same when there is no material to indicate that the appellant or anyone on his behalf had restrained or threatened the concerned witness who refused to be confronted with the appellant in custody".

Ordering the conditional bail of Chidambaram, the Apex Court said that he must deposit a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh along with two sureties of the like amount, surrender his passport to the court and assist agencies with their probe in the case. The court, interestingly, also ordered Chidambaram not to speak to the press or make any public comment on the INX Media case with respect to him or the other accused.

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