File photo: The Supreme Court of India. Photograph:( Reuters )
'The money laundering case is very sensitive. We cannot share details of the investigation till the chargesheet is filed. I request the court to examine the report given in sealed cover,' Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said in the court
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Thursday apprised the Supreme Court that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) cannot share details of the investigation till the chargesheet is filed against former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case.
"The money laundering case is very sensitive. We cannot share details of the investigation till the chargesheet is filed. I request the court to examine the report given in sealed cover," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said in the court.
He said laundering was the global phenomenon, which affects the integrity and economy of a country.
"In the money laundering case, we would be dealing with very intelligent people, stupid men cannot do laundering. For the investigation, you have to go with information which can get among the offenders of laundering. These offences are not committed in heat of the moment, they are cleverly crafted. Most of the laundering is a digital operation," Mehta said.
He said that money laundering is "not like rape where forensics can collect bloodstains", adding that it becomes very difficult to unravel how actually money laundering took place.
Emphasising that the probe agency has a statutory right to arrest, "Whether custodial interrogation is necessary or not, it has to be decided by the Special Court. An arrest is done by people of higher rank, a Director, on the basis of materials we have in possession, recorded reasons, and after the accused must be informed about the reason of arrest."
The Solicitor General said the ED has the material in its possession against Chidambaram, which gives them the power to arrest.
"The ED received the material, like records from banks all over the world. In this case, the statute provides that probe report should be sent to neutral adjudicatory authority, in a sealed cover, to avoid investigating agency tampering with them. These are statutory checks and balances provided in Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002."
In 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union finance minister.
Following the FIR filed by CBI, ED had filed a case of money laundering against him. The top court was hearing a Special Leave Petition (SLP) moved by Chidambaram against the Delhi High Court order denying him anticipatory bail in the ED case.