NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Supreme Court Dec. 4 ordered the release of a key opposition Congress party leader on bail in a case involving alleged bribery and money laundering benefiting his son’s company.
Palaniappan Chidambaram, a former finance minister, has denied the allegations and accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of pursuing a political vendetta.
His attorney said the court ordered Chidambaram’s release on 200,000 rupees ($2,850) bail.
A large number of Congress party supporters greeted Chidambaram as he left New Delhi’s Tihar prison Dec. 4 night after spending 106 days there.
“We are with you,” they shouted.
The court ordered Chidambaram not to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence ahead of his trial, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
The judges also ordered Chidambaram not to leave the country without permission or make public statements about the case, PTI said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation accuses him of illegally obtaining 3 billion rupees ($43 million) from a Mauritius-based firm for his son’s company while he was finance minister in 2006.
Several senior Congress party politicians and high-ranking government officials faced bribery charges after New Delhi hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
For years, anti-corruption campaigners have said the party in power in India uses the top investigating agency to cover up wrongdoing and target political opponents.
IANS reports: After stepping out of the jail, Chidambaram said, "I can't comment on the case. I am going to obey the Supreme Court order."
"But the fact is in the 106 days of pre-trial incarceration not a single charge was framed against me. I will speak all about that tomorrow (Thursday)," the senior Congress leader said.
Chidambaram was received by his son and Lok Sabha member Karti Chidambaram outside the jail premises. Besides his son, hundreds of Congress activists welcomed the former Finance Minister and raised slogans in his favor.
After the release, Chidambaram along with his son drove straight to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi's residence, while several Congress workers gathered outside his residence in the Jor Bagh area to welcome him. Some Congress activists were also spotted playing guitar and singing 'Nyay do, nyay do' (Deliver justice) outside his residence.