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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

P Chidambaram to remain in custody till October 3

The former minister was sent to Tihar jail on September 5 at the end of his custodial interrogation by the CBI, which arrested him on August 21.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2019 02:57 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
New Delhi
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram is seen sitting inside a Police van as he was brought in for INX Media case hearing, at Rouse Avenue District Court, in New Delhi.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram is seen sitting inside a Police van as he was brought in for INX Media case hearing, at Rouse Avenue District Court, in New Delhi. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
         

A Delhi court on Thursday extended by two more weeks the judicial custody of former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the end of his first 14-day stint in Tihar jail.

Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar remanded the senior Congress politician and Rajya Sabha member to custody until October 3. He allowed Chidambaram’s request for a copy of a statement on his account in a Jor Bagh bank branch and directed jail authorities to ensure he gets adequate medical attention after his lawyers referred to his various ailments.

“This court has considered the grounds for police custody remand and thereafter, for judicial custody remand and granted accordingly. There is no change in the circumstances as such. It is not a case where no case is made out against the accused,” the judge said.

“The investigation is still in progress. The accused has already applied for bail before the Delhi high court. Therefore, as per the understanding of this court, the judicial remand has to be extended... Accordingly, the judicial custody remand of accused is extended till October 3,” the judge added.

The CBI is probing alleged irregularities in the grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving foreign investment to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. CBI registered an FIR in the case on May 15, 2017.

The former minister was sent to Tihar jail on September 5 at the end of his custodial interrogation by the CBI, which arrested him on August 21.

On Thursday, solicitor general Tushar Mehta moved an application seeking extension of Chidambaram’s judicial custody by another 14 days. Opposing this application, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, said that plea was “devoid of any reason for extension of the remand”.

He said that the remand of an accused cannot be mechanical and it was a judicial function.

“The extension of custody cannot be mechanical process. The reasons need to be stated for the extension of the custody,” the lawyer, who is also a Congress politician, said.

He also moved an application on his client’s behalf seeking a regular medical checkup and adequate supplementary diet during his judicial custody.

Sibal submitted that the senior Congress leader suffered from various ailments like coronary artery disease and hypertension and had lost weight during his spell in the jail. He also said that a chair kept outside Chidambaram’s cell had been removed and he only had his bed to sit on. He submitted that a pillow had also not been provided to his client who, he said, had developed a back pain.

Chidambaram interjected and said, “There were 2-3 chairs outside where wardens etc would sit and I would also sit. Then these were taken away”.

Mehta told the court that Chidambaram could submit an application laying claim to whatever facilities were provided to other prisoners.

The court directed that the medical records submitted by Chidambaram be sent to the jail superintendent, who shall ensure that Chidambaram is examined for his illnesses at the prison hospital. If required, he would be examined in multi-disciplinary hospital like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Safdarjung Hospital or Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

The court also allowed Chidambaram’s request to meet his family after the proceedings while the parties were waiting for the order to be pronounced.

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 02:57 IST

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