Chidambaram sent to Tihar jail for 10 days in INX Media case

Chidambaram's counsel has opposed the plea for judicial custody and instead offered that he be taken into ED custody in the money laundering case arising out of the INX Media scam. Photo: PTI File.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram was brought to the Tihar jail on Thursday (September 5) evening, jail officials said.

The Congress leader is likely to be lodged in Jail No.7, which usually houses those accused in Enforcement Directorate cases. He was sent to the Tihar jail by a Delhi court and he will be in judicial custody till September 19.

The court has allowed him to carry his medicines to the jail and directed that he be kept in a separate cell in the Tihar prison as he was a protectee under Z-security. “He will be housed in Jail No 7. We have not yet received the court order. Adequate arrangements will be made in accordance with the order,” an official said.

Chidambaram was produced before a Delhi court on Thursday after the expiry of his 2-day CBI custody in the INX Media corruption case and the probe agency said that he be sent to judicial custody.

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 on 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.

His 15-day CBI custody, ordered by the special court in five spells, which started after his arrest on August 21 night, ends today. He was produced before Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar, who on Tuesday sent him to the CBI custody till today after taking note of the Supreme Court’s order which had said that Chidambaram would be in the CBI custody till September 5.

The apex court on Thursday also decided on his appeal against the Delhi High Court’s August 20 order in the money laundering case lodged by ED, rejected his challenge to denial of anticipatory bail.

Hours after the apex court order, another special court granted Chidambaram and his son Karti anticipatory bail in the Aircel Maxis cases. In the INX matter, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is appearing for the CBI while senior advocate Kapil Sibal is representing 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. CBI told the court that Chidambaram can be sent to judicial custody as he was a powerful public person and should not be set free.

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 in which the apex court on Thursday dismissed his plea challenging the High Court’s August 20 order.

Sibal said Chidambaram will surrender and ED will take him into custody. “Why should I (Chidambaram) be sent to jail (Tihar)?” he said and pressed that ED should take him to its custody.

“There is nothing found against me. There is no charge sheet. 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 saying 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 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.

The law officer 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,” he said, adding that Chidambaram is influential and have pervasive control over things and may influence witnesses.

Mehta referred to a statement of a witness and said this witness can be easily influenced by Chidambaram. He refuses to name the witness in open court.

The law officer said stage has not come to consider release of Chidambaram. He further said that Chidambaram was arguably arguing for bail. To this, Sibal said it was not an argument for bail but for release.

“There is no justification for judicial custody. There is not an iota of evidence placed before this court. It is all documentary. What will I tamper with,” Sibal said. Mehta said, “This is a case for judicial custody till the bail of Chidambaram was decided. Judicial custody is a natural progression.”