Karti moves Delhi HC seeking anticipatory bail in money laundering case

New Delhi: Denied relief by the trial court, Congress MP Karti P Chidambaram on Saturday approached the Delhi High Court seeking anticipatory bail in a case registered by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged Chinese visas scam.

The plea is likely to be listed for hearing on Monday.

Karti moved the high court challenging the trial court’s June 3 order in which his anticipatory bail plea was dismissed.

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The trial court denied the relief to Karti and two others saying the offence was of a very serious nature.

The court had also vacated the interim protection from arrest granted to the accused during the pendency of the anticipatory bail application.

It has directed them to join the probe as and when they are called upon by the investigating officer.

The ED registered the money laundering case against Karti and others in the alleged scam pertaining to the issuance of visas to 263 Chinese nationals in 2011 when his father P Chidambaram was the home minister.

The trial court had said the nature and gravity of the alleged offences, the nascent stage of the investigation and also the previous criminal antecedents of accused Karti P Chidambaram and S Bhaskararaman do not make a case for grant of anticipatory bail to the applicants.

The court also was against any further interim protection to them from joining the investigation in this case , saying it would seriously hamper the process and progress of the investigation.

It had also noted that there were four other cases – two by CBI and two by the ED concerning both alleged INX Media and Aircel-Maxis scams – pending before it, and both Karti and Bhaskararaman were even arrested in one of such cases and were subsequently granted regular bail, though anticipatory bail was granted to them in the other cases.

The ED’s counsel had contended that even in the previous cases, a similar modus operandi was adopted in granting approvals for some financial transactions against the existing guidelines and policies for illegal considerations or bribes.

Bhaskararaman was also involved in transactions of those cases for payment of a bribe to Karti for influencing his father, who was holding another portfolio of union minister at that time, for granting those approvals, the counsel alleged.

Therefore, the allegations in the CBI case, based upon which the ED lodged its case, cannot be brushed aside or taken lightly, the trial court had said.

It had noted that sufficient evidence had already been collected in the CBI case to show the generation of proceeds of crime in the form of bribes amount.

Therefore, it cannot be said that the applicants have been or are being roped in falsely in the above case by the CBI or even in the present case ECIR registered by the ED, the court had said.

The ED had said that the actual magnitude or volume of the processed or laundered amount of money in the case was yet to be established during the investigation and the bribe amount of Rs 50 lakh in the CBI case cannot be taken or considered as the basis of the present case.

The agency has registered its case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), taking cognisance of a recent first information report by the CBI in the same case.

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