India

P Chidambaram, India's ex-finance minister, gets bail after 106 days

The CBI team leaves with Chidambaram from his Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi Wednesday night Image copyright Press Trust of India
Image caption Mr Chidambaram (m) is a former finance minister

India's former finance minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, is set to leave prison 106 days after he was arrested in connection with a corruption case.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered his release after setting several conditions.

He is being investigated over allegations that he cleared foreign investments in exchange for bribes while he was finance minister in 2007.

Mr Chidambaram has denied wrongdoing.

A senior member of India's main opposition Congress party and an MP since 1984, Mr Chidambaram, 73, has also served as India's home minister.

The top court order says Mr Chidambaram cannot travel abroad without permission, he should not contact witnesses and has to present himself for questioning whenever required. He's also been barred from giving press interviews or making any public statements with regard to the case.

His arrest on 21 August was highly dramatic with CBI officers scaling the walls of his Delhi home. Chaotic scenes unfolded as supporters and media surrounded his car as he was driven away.

Several earlier attempts by Mr Chidambaram's legal team to win him bail had been unsuccessful.

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Media captionIndian Finance Minister P Chidambaram: "What more cuts am I expected to do?"

During his incarceration, he was investigated by officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and later the Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes.

Authorities say he is being questioned over allegations that he cleared foreign direct investment worth tens of millions of dollars to INX Media in 2007 when he was finance minister.

His son, Karti Chidambaram, is accused of receiving kickbacks from INX at the time that the investment was cleared by the finance ministry. The CBI arrested him last year, but he was later released on bail. He is a Congress MP from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Both men strongly deny the allegations. Their family and lawyers have accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of carrying out a "politically-motivated vendetta" against the father-son duo.

Senior Congress leaders have also accused the BJP of "misusing power".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Chidambaram's son, Karti Chidambaram, is a Congress party MP

A Harvard Business School graduate, Mr Chidambaram has served as finance minister four times.

His first two stints - between June 1996 and March 1998 - were in successive coalition governments, both of which collapsed about a year after they were formed. During his brief second term, he slashed taxes, including corporate rates, as part of what the Indian media hailed as a "dream budget".

He again served as finance minister under the Congress-led government from 2004 to 2008 before he was appointed home minister. He replaced Shivraj Patil, who resigned amid criticism in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

He is also a lawyer and has practised in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court.

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