New Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram Tuesday strongly refuted in the Supreme Court the ED allegations that he has valuable properties and accounts in 12 foreign countries and said each and every asset has been disclosed by him.
Chidambaram, arrested on August 21 in the INX Media case lodged by the CBI, said in his rejoinder affidavit that the top court should call for the records from the investigating officer of the Enforcement Directorate's case to satisfy itself as to whether the probe is free and fair or "is being stage monitored by the political dispensation".
"The petitioner submits on oath before this court and even at risk of facing perjury, if found to be not stating the complete truth, that he has no account or any property abroad much less 17 accounts and 10 properties, as alleged by the Respondent ED. It is further submitted that each and every asset owned by the Petitioner has been disclosed in statutory filings and he has no asset other then the assets disclosed therein," he said.
Chidambaram's affidavit has been filed in response to the ED's reply on his petition in which the probe agency has asserted that his custodial interrogation was needed to unearth a wider and larger case of money laundering.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna had extended Chidambaram's protection from arrest till August 28 and asked the ED to advance its arguments on former minister's plea against the Delhi High Court verdict denying him anticipatory bail in INX media cases lodged by the CBI and the ED.
Denying ED's allegation of amassing properties in foreign countries, Chidambaram said he "has no accounts/valuable properties in Argentina, Austria, British Virginia Island, France, Greece, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and Sri Lanka, as alleged or otherwise".
He said he was summoned by the ED on three dates -- December 19, 2018, January 1, 2019 and January 21, 2019 -- and his statements were recorded.
"This Court may call for the said statements and peruse the same so as to be satisfied that the investigation is being conducted in a free and fair manner or whether the same is being stage monitored by the political dispensation," the affidavit said.
Chidambaram also alleged that ED has leaked its reply to the media to prejudice him and the present proceedings.
He said he is a law abiding citizen, who is not a flight risk and undertakes that he would be available for investigation on any time and day as called by the probe agency, and when it has already allegedly collected substantial material in its possession there is no question of custodial interrogation.
"Since in such cases there is no question of any recovery to be made, the question of custodial interrogation does not arise. And if for any reason the Respondent (ED) claims that the responses of the Petitioner is evasive that should be demonstrated to the Court, but bald allegations of this nature are only intended to prejudice the Petitioner and the instant proceedings," the affidavit said.
He said the reasoning given by the Delhi High Court in its verdict of August 20, is a verbatim copy of the note of the ED, "which shows that there was no application of mind much less any appreciation of the facts and merits of the case by the High Court while passing the impugned judgment and only on this ground itself, the impugned judgment is liable to be set aside. Alternatively, the matter be remanded to the High Court to denovo decide the petition for anticipatory bail filed by the Petitioner".
He said the FIR registered in 2017 says that the period of the alleged offence is 2007-08 and each and every action constituting the alleged offence was committed in 2007-08 under section 420, 120B of IPC and section 13(1)(d) of PC Act.
"It is submitted that Section 420 and 120B of the IPC and Section 13 of the PC Act were not part of the scheduled offence of the PMLA in 2008 and were only introduced by a notification dated June 1, 2009," he said and claimed that there can never be a retrospective operation of a criminal/ penal statute.
Chidambaram said the malice of black money and its laundering must certainly be dealt with at all levels and there are lots of people in public life, who need to be dealt with an even hand.
"The Respondent is proceeding malafide against the Petitioner, targeting him when he has publicly stated that he has no asset other than what is disclosed by him in his returns both to the income tax authorities and in his filings before the Election Commission...It is unfortunate that despite this public statement wild allegations are being made to destroy the reputation of the Petitioner even before a complaint is lodged by the ED," he said.
Chidambaram said as far as alleged benami bank accounts are concerned, unless the ED is able to establish through documentary evidence his link with any account of benami nature, such allegations should not be made.
"It is submitted that Petitioner has no benami bank account, properties and holdings, directly or indirectly, in any shell companies," he said.
ED has said in its reply that Chidambaram needs to be arrested and interrogated based upon cogent evidence, both document and oral, and a serious miscarriage of justice would be caused if it is not permitted to unearth a well crafted scheme of money laundering devised by the accused along with his close confidants and co-conspirators.