The long arm of the law can show its reach when it wants to, as seen during the arrest in dramatic circumstances of one of the seniormost Congress leaders, P Chidambaram. To silence the party’s charge of political vendetta, the investigating agencies have a job at hand to build a watertight case that warranted the action. Everyone is equal before the law and it will be up to the courts to decide who is guilty or innocent of money-laundering, but the CBI and ED would know that only due process and solid evidence would hold ground. It would not be enough to attribute the chain of events to the Delhi High Court’s observation that ‘when economic offenders are on pre-arrest bail, the probe conducted is at a superficial level’ and how it ‘not only weakens mega scam cases, but actually stifles the prosecution’.
The charges against the former Finance Minister in Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet are grave. He is accused of facilitating a huge influx of foreign funds into a television company, INX Media, in 2007 at the behest of his son Karti, who allegedly received kickbacks and has been questioned several times. The two, who have all along proclaimed innocence, were named by INX owners at the time, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. Questions are bound to be asked on the credibility of Indrani, who has turned approver in this case but is herself in jail in connection with the murder of her daughter. While lifting the immunity from arrest, the HC had debunked as ‘inconsequential’ Chidambaram’s defence that the CBI FIR, registered in 2017, did not name him, noting that the ‘gravity of the offence is quite evident from the documents produced’. The politically-sensitive case would likely rest more on the money and paper trail.
Before his imminent arrest, Chidambaram, an eminent lawyer himself, said he would walk with a ‘clear conscience and head held high’. Something the investigating agencies would like to do themselves, as the CJI implored them recently.
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