[Chinese Visa Scam] Delhi High Court reserves order in plea by Karti Chidambaram for anticipatory bail

Karti Chidambaram

The Delhi High Court reserved its order in the anticipatory bail plea filed by Karti Chidambaram. A bench headed by Justice Poonam A Bamba reserved orders after hearing Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Additional Solicitor General SV Raju.

Earlier, the lower rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Congress lawmakers and others who are facing a probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case connected to the allotment of Chinese visas.

Special Judge MK Nagpal had dismissed the politician’s pre-arrest bail application noting their criminal antecedents.

The nature and gravity of the alleged offenses, the nascent stage of investigation, and also the previous criminal antecedents of the accused Karti P Chidambaram and S Bhaskararaman do not make it out a case for grant of anticipatory bail to the applicants or for any further interim protection to them for joining of the investigation of this case as it will seriously hamper the process and progress of the investigation,” the order held.

It is alleged that Karti was facilitating visas of 250 Chinese nationals after receiving illegal gratification of ₹50 lakh. On the basis of the case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the ED filed a money laundering case.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Karti, submitted that allegations of concealment, possession, and acquisition have to be satisfied before a money laundering charge is invoked.

Karti apprehended his arrest citing the haste with which the enforcement case information report (ECIR) was registered against him.

The allegations in the CBI’s FIR were that Talwandi Sabo Power Limited (TSPL) had paid an amount of ₹50 lakh to Bell Tools Limited (BTL) which in turn relayed it to S Bhaskararaman as gratification for the Chinese visas.

Karti, however, stated that nothing incriminating was found and no incriminating material was seized during the search proceedings against him.

The gist of the allegations in the subject FIR is that TSPL paid a sum of ₹50 lakh by cheque to BTL, Mumbai and, in turn, the said BTL paid ₹50 lakh by cash to S Bhaskararaman as gratification. There is no allegation that Bhaskararaman paid the whole or any part of ₹50 lakh to the applicant. There is no specific allegation that either Bhaskararaman or the applicant influenced any public servant or paid any gratification to any public servant. In fact, no overt act concerning the transaction in question has been attributed to or alleged against the applicant,” argued the plea.

On May 20, the Court had directed Karti to join and cooperate with the CBI investigation within 16 hours of his return to India.

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