New Delhi, August 21, 2019: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday failed to get relief from Supreme Court over CBI and ED's pursuit of him in the in the INX Media case as the matter was not heard by the court despite repeated efforts of his lawyers even as a Lookout Notice was issued against him.
Meanwhile, there was no sign of the former union minister who failed to get a hearing from the apex court, notwithstanding the CBI's notice to him midnight last night asking him to appear before it in two hours.
Chidambaram's Special Leave Petition (SLP) seeking a pre-arrest bail was not cleared by the Supreme Court registry as it had certain defects.
Earlier, a bench headed by senior-most judge Justice N V Ramana referred the plea back to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The CJI, however, had commenced hearing in the Ayodhya dispute case due to which Chidambaram's counsel Kapil Sibal was unable to mention the matter before him for urgent hearing.
Chidambaram's plea seeking interim bail will be heard on Friday said one of his counsels. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid, however, said that date has not been fixed by the Registrar.
Earlier in the day, CBI and ED filed caveats in the Supreme Court over Chidambaram's plea seeking protection from arrest in the INX media case.
The Enforcement Directorate and CBI had also issued a lookout notice against Chidambaram on Tuesday evening shortly after its team went to the former finance minister's residence but was unable to find him.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and DMK leader M K Stalin were among those who came out in support of Chidambaram, accusing the BJP-led government of pursuing vendetta politics.
Rahul Gandhi accused the Modi government of using the Enforce Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and "sections of a spineless media to character assassinate" Chidambaram and said he strongly condemns "this disgraceful misuse of power".
Priyanka Gandhi alleged that the Congress leader was "shamefully hunted down" and vowed to "stand by him and continue to fight for the truth".
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, however, dismissed the Congress allegations and said BJP had no involvement in the issue.
The matter concerning Chidambaram's plea was again mentioned by Sibal after lunch before Justice Ramana saying it had not been listed yet.
"We have no other option other than coming before you as the matter has still not been listed. We have done all that we can do. We have asked the registry to list the matter. We have considered your request and directed the registry to list it. Without listing, we cannot hear the case," he added.
On being asked by the judge, the Registrar informed that there were defects in the petition, which have been rectified and it will be listed.
"The defects have been cured just now in Chidambaram's petition and we are following the process. Caveats filed should be cleared. Once done, it will be listed by the CJI's office," he said.
Sibal said CJI will rise only at 4 pm. "That means it will not be heard today".
"This is not our job. this is the maximum we can do. Without listing the matter can we hear the matter? Is your person running away?" Justice Ramana asked.
Sibal said that the court has been protecting people on oral mentioning as well. "A lookout notice has been issued against him. He is not the man to run away. Our person is not running away. We can also give an undertaking for it," he said.
In the morning, Kapil Sibal along with Salman Khurshid and Vivek Tankha first mentioned the plea for protection from arrest and urgent listing of the case before a three-judge Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana.
Justice Ramana then said he will send the file of the case to the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who will list the matter before an appropriate Bench.
As the matter couldn't get listed due to a defect in the petition, Sibal again mentioned the matter before the Justice Ramana at 2 pm saying the matter is still not been listed before any Bench.
Justice Ramana then called the Listing Registrar and enquired about the issue. He replied that the defect has been cured just now and the matter will be listed after due process.
As Sibal mentioned the urgency of the case, Justice Ramana said he can't hear the matter before listing.
Later at 4 pm, Sibal along with a battery of lawyers was present before the CJI Ranjan Gogoi's headed Constitution Bench when the Ayodhya Bench was rising for the day but did not mention the urgent listing of interim bail case.
Sibal after coming out of the court told reporters that he was standing there in the courtroom to show his face to the CJI that he was there. Sibal said he expected CJI to enquire why he was there, but the CJI left without saying a word.
Still expecting hearing today, lawyers waited in the consultation room of the apex court in the corridor of Registrar's office, for the Registrar order on the listed of the case.
On being asked what's the status, Sibal said he and other senior lawyers are in the Supreme Court "since 10 am, now it's about 5 pm we don't know what's happening."
A few minutes before 5 pm, one of the counsels of Chidambaram came outside the Registrar's office and said the matter will be heard on Friday. When asked from Sibal and Khurshid they said they don't know about the date.
The Congress leader's lawyers had moved the apex court against Tuesday's Delhi High Court order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea regarding cases filed by the CBI and the ED related to the alleged INX Media scam.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the plea of Chidambaram and said this is a case of money laundering of monumental magnitude.
The Delhi High Court had, in its order, said that the grant of bail in cases like this will send a wrong message to the society.
Chidambaram, in his petition, said that he granted approval to INX Media's proposal in the "normal course of official business".
The Congress leader said that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which was constituted in order to promote foreign investment in the country, unanimously approved the proposal of INX Media for approval for FDI.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered an FIR alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.
Based on the FIR, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case against him.
Chidambaram's son Karti has also been named in the two cases. He was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI and was later released on bail. The
ED had attached properties belonging to him.
On July 4, a Delhi court had allowed Indrani Mukerjee, the former head of the INX Media, to turn an approver in the CBI case.
The CBI had on late Tuesday night put up a notice outside his residence to appear before them in two hours prompting his lawyer to request the investigation agency not to take any coercive action until the hearing of Chidambaram's plea in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi expressed their solidarity with Chidambaram through tweets.
Priyanka Gandhi said Chidambaram was an "extremely qualified and respected member of the Rajya Sabha" and has served the nation with loyalty for decades including as Finance Minister and Home Minister.
"He unhesitatingly speaks truth to power and exposes the failures of this government, but the truth is inconvenient to cowards so he is being shamefully hunted down. We stand by him and will continue to fight for the truth no matter what the consequences are," she said.
Several other Congress leaders including Shashi Thraroor and Harish Rawat came out in support of Chidambaram.
Tharoor, in his tweet, referred to remarks made by Chidambaram in an interview. "It is a tribute to your strength of character that you are standing up to persecution and character assassination w/ courage and confidence. I believe justice will prevail in the end. Till then we will have to allow some malicious minds their schadenfreude," he said.
Congress party tweeted that it stands by his quest for truth "no matter what".
Rijiju dismissed Congress accusations that the Centre was indulging in vendetta politics.
"Bharatiya Janata Party has no involvement in the matter. Action will be taken against whoever indulges in the corruptions. From where does party politics come in? He (Chidambaram) should co-operate with the authorities," Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said. (Agency)