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Chidambaram tells HC offences alleged against him not grave

Chidambaram tells HC offences alleged against him not grave

New Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram, arrested in the INX Media corruption case, told the Delhi High Court Wednesday that the offences of cheating and criminal conspiracy alleged against him are not grave in nature and he should be released on bail.

His counsel submitted in the court that the offences for which Chidambaram has been booked carry only a punishment of up to 7-year imprisonment.

Justice Suresh Kait concluded hearing the submissions advanced by Chidambaram's lawyers on his bail petition and fixed the matter for Friday when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will commence his arguments on behalf of the CBI.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Chidambaram, referred to a previous judgement of the Supreme Court. He said it provided that in criminal cases punishable with imprisonment of not more than 7 years, the accused should not be arrested and courts also should not remand them to custody unless the conditions specified therein are met. In this case, the offences with which Chidambaram has been charged are punishable with imprisonment of not more than 7 years, at the time of commission of the offence, he said.

The 74-year old veteran Congress leader's bail plea has been opposed by the CBI. In its written response, the probe agency has said that it is a "gravest case of economic offences" and the magnitude of financial embezzlement as also misuse of high public office disentitles him for any relief.

CBI, in its written reply, has said, "It is settled law that the gravity of the offence has nothing to do with punishment provided for the same. The gravity is to be judged by the impact, the offence has, on the society, economy, financial stability and integrity of the country.

"It is further well settled that the economic offences constitute a class apart and a class by itself, as it cuts the very root of probity and purity of public administration and results in eroding the public confidence which it reposes on the government elected by it."

During the day, Chidambaram's son Karti filed an affidavit in pursuance to court's Tuesday direction asking him to disclose the source of certain government documents, relating to FIPB approval granted to the company, which were being referred to by his lawyers during the hearing of his bail plea.

He said in the affidavit that the documents were part of the 'relief upon documents' filed by the Enforcement Directorate in the proceedings initiated under section 5 (attachment of property involved in money laundering) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) before the adjudicating authority here. The affidavit stated that Chidambaram's wife Nalini and son Karti were arraigned as defendants in those proceedings and they were furnished a copy of the relied upon documents, including these papers.

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