Former union minister P Chidambaram walked out of Delhi’s Tihar jail this evening, hours after being granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX Media case. As he stepped outside, he was greeted by a group of Congress leaders including his son Karti Chidambaram. Mr Chidambaram said he cannot comment on the case as per Supreme Court’s order, but even after spending more than three months in jail, “there is not a single charge framed against me.” Mr Chidambaram’s first stop after 106 days in prison is Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s home. The Congress Rajya Sabha member is also likely to attend parliament tomorrow, Karti said.
Here are top 10 points on P Chidambaram’s release:
- “I cannot comment on the case. I am going to obey the Supreme Court’s order and I will not comment on the case. The fact is, after 106 days of pre-trial incarceration, there is not a single charge that has been framed against me,” Mr Chidambaram said after walking out of jail.
- Speaking to reporters after meeting Mrs Gandhi at her house, P Chidambaram said, “I am happy that Supreme Court has passed an order granting bail and I am happy that I have stepped out and breathing the air of freedom after 106 days.” The former finance minister said he will address a press conference tomorrow.
- Mr Chidambaram, 74, cannot travel without the court’s permission and has to appear for questioning when required. He has also been banned from making public statements on the case, giving interviews or contacting witnesses.
- The former Finance Minister had challenged the Delhi High Court’s decision denying him bail. The Supreme Court criticised the High Court for making observations on the merits of the case and noted that the “triple test” was found in the politician’s favour – that he was not absconding, not tampering with evidence and he was cooperating with investigators.
- The Supreme Court, noting that economic offences are grave in nature, also said “grant of bail is the rule and refusal is exception”. There was no material to indicate that Mr Chidambaram “or anyone on his behalf had restrained or threatened a witness”, the top court said.
- The court said it was not fair to make a ruling based on documents in sealed cover, as the High Court judge had done. “While the judge was empowered to look at the materials produced in a sealed cover to satisfy his judicial conscience, the judge ought not to have recorded findings based on the materials produced in a sealed cover.”
- Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “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.” Senior Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi had visited Mr Chidambaram in jail in a show of support. Last month, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi also visited him.
- “Phew, at last after 106 days,” tweeted Karti Chidambaram moments after the Supreme Court decision. The BJP’s Sambit Patra jibed that Mr Chidambaram had joined the “OOBC (Out On Bail Club)” of the Congress.
- During the arguments, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had claimed that the former finance minister continues to have “substantial influence” on crucial witnesses in the case even from custody.
- The veteran politician was arrested on August 21 by the CBI, which is investigating allegations that as Finance Minister of the country in 2007, Mr Chidambaram facilitated a huge infusion of foreign funds into the company INX Media founded by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. The Enforcement Directorate arrested him on October 16 in connection with money-laundering allegations linked to the case. Mr Chidambaram is accused of creating a web of shell companies and several foreign bank accounts to launder money