Asia Pacific / Politics

Former Indian finance minister bailed

AFP-JIJI

Indian ex-finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram was granted bail Wednesday, 106 days after his dramatic arrest on corruption charges that he says are part of a government witch-hunt against political opponents.

Chidambaram, 73, a political veteran from the main opposition Congress party, was told to submit a bond of 200,000 Rupees ($2,800), not make any public statements on the issue and to surrender his passport.

Congress had earlier described Chidambaram’s arrest in August by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s equivalent to the FBI, as a “shameless witch-hunt” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Chidambaram, a wealthy lawyer from a land-owning family from Tamil Nadu state, served twice as finance minister and once as home minister during Manmohan Singh’s 2004-14 tenure as premier.

He is accused of receiving bribes, money-laundering and approving illegal investments.

His son Karti Chidambaram and several government officials are also being investigated over their role in the scandals when Singh’s Congress-led alliance was in power.

His arrest saw CBI officers scale the boundary wall of his upscale residence in central New Delhi before escorting him to their headquarters for questioning.

The Congress party welcomed the court decision, tweeting, “Truth Finally Prevails.”

Rahul Gandhi, former Congress party president and the scion of Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, described Chidambaram’s jailing as “vengeful and vindictive.”

“I am glad that SC (the Supreme Court) has granted him bail. I am confident that he will be able to prove his innocence in a fair trial.”