By SM.06 Sep, 2019
NEW DELHI: Former Union Minister P Chidambaram was taken to Tihar jail after a CBI court today ordered judicial custody for him for two weeks in a corruption investigation.
Chidambaram, 74, will be in "Jail No 7" of Asia"s biggest prison complex till September 19. That means Chidambaram will have to spend his 75th birthday - on September 16 - in jail. Soon after the court ruling, the senior Congress leader"s lawyer and party colleague Kapil Sibal requested a separate cell for him, a cot, a toilet with western facilities and medicines, which were granted as he has Z-security. "I am only worried about the economy," said the former Finance Minister, as he was led out after the hearing.
Sibal had argued strongly against judicial custody, saying Chidambaram was ready to surrender before the Enforcement Directorate. "I am willing to go to Enforcement Directorate custody if they want, but why to judicial custody? Either I surrender, let Enforcement Directorate take custody, I don"t have a problem," Chidambaram had said, referring to the Supreme Court order this morning denying him protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate.
Chidambaram would have gone to a police lock-up in the heart of Delhi if he had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate today.
But the CBI said in court: "The accused is a powerful and influential person, so he should be sent to judicial custody." Mr Sibal countered that there had been no case of tampering or influencing evidence till now.
In the CBI"s custody since his arrest on August 21, Chidambaram had been put up in a "guest-room" on the ground floor of the agency"s multi-storey building.
The Enforcement Directorate wants Chidambaram"s custody for investigations into their money-laundering charge against the former Finance Minister in the case involving INX Media.
The CBI accuses Chidambaram of misusing his position as Finance Minister of the country in 2007 while facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds in INX Media at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram.
Chidambaram and his son were named by INX Media co-founders Peter Mukerjea and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently jailed in Mumbai in connection with the murder of Indrani"s daughter Sheena Bora.
Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role in securing the foreign funds, was arrested in 2018 and released after 23 days.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court, while refusing to grant Chidambaram protection from arrest by Enforcement Directorate, said: "Anticipatory bail has to be exercised sparingly in cases of economic offences. Considering the facts and circumstances, this is not a fit case to grant anticipatory bail."
The court said that the investigating agency has to be given sufficient freedom to conduct its probe, and the grant of anticipatory bail at this stage would hamper investigation.
Chidambaram did manage to get pre-arrest bail in another case, the Rs. 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal involving a clearance of $800 million foreign investment in 2006, allegedly in exchange of kickbacks.