Former Union Minister P Chidambaram will have to stay in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation — which is questioning him in the INX Media case — till Thursday, the Supreme Court said today, ordering that “status quo” be maintained in the case. The court had extended his CBI custody for a day yesterday, after Mr Chidambaram’s lawyer appealed that the 74-year-old leader not be sent to Tihar jail — the usual procedure when one does not get bail after police custody expires.
Today’s extension came after the agency told the court that the senior Congress leader’s 15-day custody expires on September 5. “We have made a wrong statement yesterday,” the agency admitted.
“We are conscious that we should not usurp the jurisdiction of the concerned trial court,” said a bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna, which had asked Mr Chidambaram yesterday to apply for bail before the special court.
The judges said they would hear the case on Thursday and meanwhile, status quo should be maintained. the same day, the court will also deliver its verdict on Mr Chidambaram’s appeal for protection from arrest in a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate.
Appearing for the agency, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also said with the matter being listed for hearing at 3.30 pm, the agency got less than 24 hours’ notice to respond to the interim bail plea.
The plea, he also pointed out, was filed 13 days after Mr Chidambaram’s arrest. “This should not be the procedure,” he said.
The agency has contended that Mr Chidambaram should not be allowed any protection and it was the trial court which could decide on the question of his bail.
The CBI has accused Mr Chidambaram of facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds into the television company INX Media in 2007, when he was Finance Minister, at the behest of his son Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role.
The Chidambarams were named in the case by INX Media co-founders Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are in jail in Mumbai for the murder of Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.