New Delhi: The Supreme Court, which had restrained the Enforcement Directorate from arresting Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram in connection with the INX Media case, on March 15 extended the protection granted to him till April 2.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, while extending the protection of stay of arrest granted by the Delhi High Court had transferred to the apex court all the petitions filed by Karti Chidambaram challenging the powers of the ED to arrest him under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act even without registering an FIR.
On Monday even as arguments by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the Enforcement Directorate remained inconclusive, the Bench extended the protection till April 2. The Bench is examining whether the High Courts can grant anticipatory bail to an accused under the PMLA in a writ petition.
Making his preliminary submissions, Mehta for the ED argued that the registration of ECIR (Economic Case Information Report) is itself based on a cognisable offence and the ED has the power to arrest, search, seize and attach properties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
He said Bombay, Punjab and Haryana and Delhi High Courts have interpreted Sections 19 and 45 of PMLA on power of arrest differently and hence the apex court should adjudicate the issue. The ASG said that if the power of arrest were taken away then it would be impossible for the ED to nab persons like Nirav Modi and others who had fled the country. This will become a legal device for persons to escape questioning by the ED.
He said the ED apprehended that more number of persons like Nirav Modi, who are facing money laundering cases will make an attempt to get relief by approaching the High Court seeking stay of arrest.
It said over 1,000 such cases are pending across the country being probed by ED and all these cases will be affected if Karti’s anticipatory bail was not cancelled.
Karti is accused of having received Rs 10 lakhs in kickbacks in 2007 to clear foreign investment worth Rs 305 crore for INX Media, which was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, at a time when his father P Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
The ED prayed for quashing the High Court order. Arguments will continue on April 2.