Former finance minister P Chidambaram’s desperate bid to escape Tihar Jail in the INX Media corruption case went in vain on Thursday as a Delhi court accepted CBI’s plea and sent him to judicial custody till September 19.
Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar ordered 14-day judicial custody for Chidambaram, during which he will be kept in Tihar jail. The court allowed him to carry his medicines to the jail and directed that he be kept in a separate cell in Tihar prison as he was a protectee under Z-security.
The court also issued notice to the Enforcement Directorate on Chidambaram’s plea seeking to surrender in the money laundering case lodged by the agency.
Shortly after the court order, the Congress said that those with the power of truth have the strength to fight injustice.
Earlier during the hearing, Chidambaram’s counsel strongly opposed the CBI plea 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.
Pressing for judicial custody, the CBI told the court that Chidambaram was a powerful public person and should not be set free.
Chidambaram’s counsel, Kapil Sibal, opposed the CBI plea saying there was no allegation that Chidambaram tried to influence or hamper the 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 Thursday dismissed his plea challenging the high court’s August 20 order denying him anticipatory bail.
Sibal offered that 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 into custody.
“There is nothing found against me. 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 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 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.
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.