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No Bail For P Chidambaram; May Influence Witnesses, Says Delhi High Court

Former Union Minister P Chidamabaram might influence witnesses, the Delhi High Court said today, denying him bail in the INX media case. Mr Chidamabaram has been in Delhi's Tihar jail since last month after the Central Bureau of Investigation finished questioning him in the case.

P Chidambaram had argued that the allegations against him were not grave in nature and carry only up to 7 years' punishment.

The Central Bureau of Investigation -- which arrested him in the case in August -- contended that the "gravity of the offence has nothing to do with punishment provided... the gravity is to be judged by the impact the offence has on the society, economy, financial stability and integrity of the country".

In its order, the High Court said there is no chance of tampering of evidence, but there is a possibility that Mr Chidambaram can influence witnesses in the case.

P Chidambaram had signed off on a huge infusion of foreign funds into the firm as the finance minister in 2007. The agency has accused his son Karti Chidambaram of receiving kickbacks in the matter.

The INX Media was co-founded by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently in jail in the case involving the murder of Indrani's daughter Sheena Bora.

Indrani Mukerjea has turned approver in the case against the Chidambarams and the investigative agencies have based their case on her testimony.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in whose cabinet Mr Chidambaram was the finance minister, has questioned how he could be held responsible for a collective decision.

A dozen officers, including six secretaries to the government, examined and recommended the proposal. Mr Chidambaram, he said, approved the unanimous recommendation.

"If the Minister is liable for approving a recommendation, the whole system of government will collapse," he said.

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