“Jail has taught me the value of freedom.” These were the first words of Shivraj Puri, moments after he stepped out of Bhondsi jail on Thursday after spending 17 months in confinement.
Clean shaven and wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans, the former Citibank relationship manager said he had lost 35 kgs during his stay in jail.
HT caught up with Puri in the jail campus to know his side of the story in the Rs. 400-crore scam that rocked corporate India in December 2010.
“The matter is subjudice and it will not be prudent of me to comment on it. It’s just a temporary relief,” he said.
Asked if he was expecting to get bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court after his plea was rejected by lower courts, he said, “I never had doubts on the issue of bail and always had faith in law.”
During the course of a 20-minute conversation with HT reporters, he said he was strained financially due to the litigation. “It’s not a matter of cost only but loss of prestige and goodwill.” Puri isn’t happy with the media coverage of the scam. “The media was more focused on my prosecution and ignored the other side of the story.”
Jail sources said he hardly had any visitors. “Though my family has always stood by me, I chose to stay away from the world to deal with the situation on my own,” Puri said.
The jail staff, meanwhile, said Puri’s conduct was good and he never demanded any extra facility. “He shared his barrack with 30 other undertrials and slept on a 6x3 elevated cement bed,” said Bhondsi jail superintendent Harinder Singh.
Sources said that despite being limited interaction, Puri shared a good rapport with other undertrials and taught them English.