New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the allegation of money laundering against former finance minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media case were as grave as the crime of kidnapping and murder committed by “Ranga-Billa” in the national capital in 1978.
Thursday was the 100th day of incarceration of Mr Chidambaram, who was arrested on August 21, 2019.
Describing the offence committed by Mr Chidambaram falling in the “gravest of grave” category, solicitor-general Tushar Mehta told a bench of Justices R. Banumathi, A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy that the crime committed by “Ranga-Billa” could not be the test of the gravity of the offence as economic offences were a separate class in themselves and have a wider repercussion for the society and the nation’s economy.
Taking exception to the high court findings on the gravity of the case and saying that it would send a wrong message to the people of the country, if the former finance minister was released on bail, Mr Chidambaram had on Wednesday lamented that it was being projected as if his offence was as heinous as that of “Ranga-Billa”.
Placing the economic offences — attributed to Mr Chidambaram — as grave as the kidnapping and murder, Mehta said that “murder a heinous crime could be committed in a heat of the moment, but an economic offence is “pre-mediated and calculated”.
As Mr Mehta made a strong plea against the grant of bail, the court reserved its order on Mr Chidambaram’s plea for bail. The former finance minister has challenged November 15 Delhi high court order rejecting his bail plea on the grounds of the gravity of the case.
However, the high court by its November 15 order had said that Mr Chidambaram was not a flight risk (could not flee from the country), tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses.