New Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram, in an unprecedented move, has told the Supreme Court he is willing to remain in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) till Monday in the INX Media case.
The offer was made after Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said they would hear Chidambaram's plea on September 2 or Monday in which he has challenged the trial court for sending him to CBI custody.
Chidambaram, who was arrested from his home last week, is in CBI custody till Friday and will be produced before a trial court when it expires. On Friday, if the CBI court turns down the investigating agency's request for sending him back to its custody, the former Union minister may be sent to Delhi's Tihar jail.
The judges, who did not comment on the offer, said they would announce their decision on September 5 on Chidambaram's plea challenging the Delhi High Court's August 20 verdict denying him anticipatory bail plea in the INX Media money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The court also extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Chidambaram till September 5. Chidambaram, in his plea, had sought anticipatory bail in the money laundering case.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram, told the court that since the plea challenging the remand orders is listed on September 2, Chidambaram is offering to remain in CBI's custody till then.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the submission, saying extension of the custody can only be done by the trial court as the case is pending there.
"If the same offer is made before the trial court tomorrow, then we may have no objection to it," Mehta said on Thursday.
He also told the court that the ED needed to interrogate Chidambaram in custody without the "protective umbrella" of anticipatory bail.
"I have materials to show that laundering of money continued after 2009 and even till date (in the INX Media case)," he said, countering arguments advanced by Chidambaram's lawyers that the agency cannot charge him for an offence with retrospective effect.
Sibal, on other hand, challenged the ED to show any one bank account or any one property, which he had not shown in returns or declared publicly as a member of parliament.
Chidambaram has been accused of facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds into the media company INX Media in 2007, when he was Finance Minister, at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role. Karti Chidambaram -- also named in the case -- is out on bail.
Chidambaram has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he does not have to be questioned in custody as he has answered all the questions asked so far....