PC denied bail: Is Times of India out of its’ mind?

1st October 2019

1st October 2019

Is Times of India out of its' mind?

It front pages a story “HC praise PC, but declines to grant bail” which is a complete flip on the chilling pronouncement by the High Court against jailed former Union minister P. Chidambaram that has led his family, friends and supporters deeply red-faced.

P. Chidambaram has been lodged in Tihar jail since August 21, one of the most high-profile arrests of independent India, over allegations by India’s premier investigating agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), that he helped INX Media gain Rs 305 crores from foreign investments in 2007 through Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

Alongside is Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigating P. Chidambaram on the alleged offence of money laundering which, the allegation is, was meant to profit his son, Karti Chidambaram.

The “praise” Times of India is attributing to High Court in favour of P. Chidambaram has been taken out of context. The newspaper claims the court acknowledged Chidambaram had been a “strong finance minister and home minister and presently member of Indian Parliament.”

So, to the benefit of readers, this is what Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said in denying bail to P. Chidambaram.

“It is on record that large sum of monies has come into the companies owned/or controlled by the co-conspirator Karti P. Chidambaram during the relevant period for the favours shown by the petitioners to the INX Media.”

Holding that the “order of remand for judicial custody of the trial court is justified”, Justice Kait said: “It cannot be disputed that if the case is proved against the petitioner (Chidambaram), the offence is on the society, economy, financial stability and integrity of the country.”

“It is fact that the entire community is aggrieved if the economic offenders, who ruin the economy of the state, are not brought to book as such offences affect the very fabric of democratic governance and probity in public life,” he said.

Justice Kait seemed to agree with the submission of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the material witnesses have been approached by the accused “not to disclose” any information regarding him and his son Karti.

“He has deep roots in Indian society and maybe some connection abroad. But the fact that he will not influence the witnesses, directly or indirectly cannot be ruled out…Moreover, the investigation is at an advanced stage…therefore, this court is not inclined to grant bail,” said Justice Kait.

This by any chance looks like praise to you?

The truth is Justice Kait began his pronouncements with the words: “This court cannot dispute the fact that the petitioner has been a strong Finance Minister and Home Minister and presently, Member of Indian Parliament…”

Judicial pronouncements usually build up its narrative putting all things in perspective. Justice Kait’s delivery on Monday was no different. But to headline your story as “HC praise PC” is a complete travesty to a damning verdict.

It is also no excuse that the newspaper was struggling for space to fit in the story. We have this comical situation of Lutyens Media reserving first four pages of its print editions these days to advertisements in the festive season. Yet it couldn’t find space for a “strong” former Union minister who is feared by the High Court, if the offence is proved, to have affected “the society, economy, financial stability and integrity of the country…that the entire community is aggrieved if the economic offenders are not brought to book…”

 

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