New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was sent to Tihar jail Thursday by a Delhi court where he will spend 14 days in judicial custody till September 19 in connection with the INX Media corruption case. Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar passed the order.
The court allowed him to carry his medicines to jail and directed that he be kept in a separate cell in Tihar as he was a ‘protectee’ under Z-security.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured that there will be adequate security for P Chidambaram in the jail.
The court also issued notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Chidambaram’s plea seeking to surrender in the money laundering case lodged by the agency in which the Supreme Court dismissed Thursday his plea against the August 20 order of the Delhi High Court denying him pre-arrest bail.
P Chidambaram, 73, was produced before a Delhi court after the expiry of his two-day CBI custody in the case. His 15-day CBI custody, ordered by the special court in five spells, which started after his arrest August 21 night, ends Thursday.
Chidambaram’s counsel opposed the CBI plea for judicial custody, which will take him to Tihar jail, and said that the veteran Congress leader was ready to go into the ED custody for interrogation in the money laundering case arising out of the scam in which the apex court Thursday refused to grant him pre-arrest bail.
Chidambaram was brought to the special court hours after he withdrew his petition challenging the non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued against him following which he was sent to the CBI custody.
In the INX matter, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the CBI while senior advocate Kapil Sibal represented Chidambaram.
During the proceedings, Mehta informed the judge about the outcome of the Supreme Court’s order in the ED case and also about the withdrawal of his petitions in the CBI case. He told the court that P Chidambaram can be sent to judicial custody as he is a powerful public person and should not be set free.
Kapil Sibal opposed the CBI saying there was no allegation that Chidambaram tried to influence or hamper probe. He further said that Chidambaram was ready to go to the ED custody in money laundering case related to INX Media. He told the court that Chidambaram will surrender and ED will take him into custody.
“Why should I (Chidambaram) be sent to jail (Tihar)?” Sibal said and pressed that ED should take him to its custody.
“There is nothing found against me (Chidambaram). There is no chargesheet. They say I am a powerful and influential. But they have no evidence. There is no evidence of tampering with evidence. Has a witness said anything like that?” Sibal argued.
The Solicitor General objected to Sibal’s submission and said he is arguing for bail.
However, Sibal said, “The reasons given in the application for judicial custody are non-existent. What do you need me for in judicial custody?”
When the Solicitor General sought a clarification as to for what relief Sibal is arguing the latter said, “I (Chidambaram) am arguing for my release.”
Mehta said the apex court has accepted his arguments in the money laundering case lodged by the ED and there is a strong chance of tampering with evidence and witnesses and response is awaited on the ‘Letters Rogatory’ sent to various countries.
Mehta alleged that Chidambaram was influencing the banks in foreign countries and he was non-cooperative in the investigation and the banks may not cooperate if he influences them.
“This is a case of serious economic offence affecting economy of the country,” Mehta said, adding that Chidambaram is influential and have pervasive control over things and may influence witnesses. Mehta also referred to a statement of a witness and said this witness can be easily influenced by Chidambaram. He however, refused to name the witness in open court.
The law officer asserted that the stage has not come to consider the release of Chidambaram. Mehta said, “This is a case for judicial custody till the bail of Chidambaram is decided. Judicial custody is a natural progression.”