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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

P Chidambaram walks out of Tihar jail, says ‘happy to breathe the air of freedom’

P Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court but told to surrender his passport, make himself available for questioning and not influence witnesses.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2019 22:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
P Chidambaram after his release from Tihar Jail  in Delhi after being granted bail by the Supreme Court.
P Chidambaram after his release from Tihar Jail in Delhi after being granted bail by the Supreme Court.(Amal KS)
         

Former finance minister P Chidambaram walked out of Tihar jail late on Wednesday evening after spending more than three months in custody in the INX Media case. “I am happy to step outside prison after 106 days and breathe the air of freedom,” Chidambaram told reporters moments after stepping out of the jail complex with son Karti by his side.

“The fact is after 105 days in pretrial incarceration, there is not a single charge framed against me as we speak to you one. Not one charge has been framed against me,” the 74-year-old Congress leader said. He declined to comment on the INX Media case, pointing to the restriction placed on him by the Supreme Court.

Watch | ‘Unwarranted 106 days’ says Karti as P Chidambaram walks out of Tihar jail

 

Chidambaram was granted bail by the Supreme Court but told him to surrender his passport, make himself available for questioning and not influence witnesses. He was also prohibited from speaking to the media on the INX Media case.

“I am going to obey the Supreme Court order and I will not comment on the case,” Chidambaram said.

According to Congress leaders, P Chidambaram’s first stop would be the residence of party president Sonia Gandhi who had extended the party’s complete backing to the senior leader. She had also visited him in jail once along with former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Last month, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi had also visited him.

Chidambaram will later go to his Jor Bagh house in central Delhi from where he was picked up by the Central Bureau of Investigation officials late on August 21 after high drama.

The CBI was the first of the two central agencies to have arrested Chidambaram for alleged irregularities in approval to let the INX Media group receive foreign funds when he was the finance minister in 2007.

Chidambaram’s family and his party, the Congress, have alleged that his arrest was an attempt to silence a prominent opposition voice particularly over the government’s track record on the economy.

It is a charge that the government has refuted. The latest rejoinder came from Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday who reminded the Congress that the court was yet to pronounce him innocent. BJP leaders have also taken digs at the Congress for treating his release from jail on bail as some sort of vindication.

In some ways, Chidambaram’s biting comments on the government didn’t really stop even when he was in jail. In comments to reporters at court appearances or in short posts put out from his Twitter handle, Chidambaram had kept them coming.

The former finance minister didn’t speak on the economy outside Tihar, one of his favourite topics to jab the government, when he stepped out of jail. That, he told reporters, would be tomorrow.

P Chidambaram’s son Karti told reporters soon after he was granted bail that the Congress politician, also a Rajya Sabha member, would attend Parliament tomorrow.