SC allows Karti to travel abroad after depositing Rs 2 crore

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Congress MP Karti Chidambaram to travel abroad on a condition of depositing Rs. 2 crore. Insisting on deposit of Rs 10 crore instead, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) submitted that Congress MP Karti Chidambaram was an accused before it, and it does not matter if he is an MP or not. Chidambaram is being investigated in the INX Media money laundering case.

A bench headed by Justices Ashok Bhushan also directed Chidambaram to furnish the itinerary of foreign travel and also list places where he will stay and permission is granted for 6 months.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, representing ED, submitted that the permission if at all granted then should be done by depositing a sum of Rs 10 crore, as it was done earlier when the court allowed him to travel abroad. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, argued that “Why should be an MP asked to deposit Rs 10 crore?” Sibal insisted that his client will not run away and travelling abroad is a fundamental right.

At this stage, the bench said it can reduce the amount to some extent and pointed at deposit of Rs 5 crore. Sibal submitted the court had granted him bail after finding that there is no chance of tampering of evidence. He added the condition of Rs 10 crore was imposed by former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and his client had travelled abroad without these conditions in 2017 and 2018.

Sibal stressed that his client will not run away as he is an MP. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said Chidambaram is an accused before ED and in the backdrop of such circumstances, it does not matter if one is MP or not.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have questioned Karti on several occasions in the INX media case. The investigation agencies are probing his alleged role in obtaining clearance to the tune of Rs 305 crore from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in 2007 when his father P. Chidambaram was the finance minister. The ED had registered a PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) case based on FIR by the CBI.