A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Delhi on Thursday extended Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s judicial custody till October 3, Bar and Bench reported.
The court, which was hearing the investigative agency’s plea to extend Chidambaram’s judicial custody in the INX Media case, allowed the Congress leader to meet his family. “There is nothing stated in the application as reasons for extension of judicial custody,” Congress leader’s counsel Kapil Sibal said during proceedings.
Chidambaram’s other lawyer, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, pointed out that the Congress leader had already been in judicial custody for the last 14 days. “Reasonable grounds must exist for extending the judicial custody,” Singhvi added. “Merely because bail hearing is coming on September 23 before High Court, a ‘longer date’ cannot be given.”
Sibal moved an application for Chidambaram’s medical examination even as Singhvi pointed out that the former minister had lost weight. “If at all remand is granted, it should be shorter,” Sibal told the court. “He doesn’t have a chair in the cell, there is no pillow for the bed.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the health of any inmate was of concern. “Whatever is permissible in law, will be done by the jail authorities,” he added.
Sibal made a similar complaint about the lack of a pillow and chair, in the Supreme Court. He said that as a result of this, Chidambaram was suffering from backache, the Hindustan Times reported. “There were 2-3 chairs outside where wardens etc would sit and I would also sit,” Chidambaram said in his plea. “Then these were taken away.”
The court in its order asked the jail superintendent to consider Chidambaram’s request for a chair and pillow favourably.
The CBI court had sent Chidambaram to jail on September 5. The court had also directed that Chidambaram be kept in a separate cell as he has Z-security. It also allowed him to carry his medicines to jail.
According to the agency, there were irregularities in the foreign direct investment clearance granted to INX Media by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board in 2007. The Congress leader was the finance minister at the time. The company was then owned by businesspersons Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, who are lodged in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena Bora.
The CBI claimed that Chidambaram’s son, Karti Chidambaram, allegedly received Rs 10 lakh from the company for helping it avoid punitive action for taking Rs 305 crore in foreign funding in 2007, despite having clearance for only Rs 4 crore.
The INX Media case is also being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, which filed a money laundering case in May 2017 against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and the Mukerjeas. The former owners of INX Media reportedly told the investigating agencies that Chidambaram had asked them to meet his son and help him with his business.