New Delhi: Karti Chidambaram was today sent to 13-days judicial custody in the INX Media corruption case by a Delhi court which also dismissed his plea to provide him a separate cell in Tihar Jail due to his threat perception.
The court dismissed his appeal for an urgent hearing on his bail plea as also his threat perception as his father P Chidambaram who, as a union minister in the previous UPA government, had handled several sensitive issues.
Karti was produced on expiry of his three-day police remand before special judge Sunil Rana who sent him to Tihar Jail, after the CBI, in whose custody he was quizzed continuously for 12 days since his arrest on February 28 from Chennai, said he was no longer required for further custodial interrogation.
“In view of the fact that no more police custody remand of accused is sought by CBI, accused Karti Chidambaram is remanded to judicial custody. He be produced on March 24,” the special judge said.
The court, which refused Karti’s plea for a separate cell in the jail in view of threat perception as during his father’s tenure as Union Home Minister several terrorists were kept in Tihar jail, said the social status of the Chidambaram family cannot be ignored but he cannot be treated differently from the other accused persons.
“The apprehension raised by the senior counsel for accused cannot be ignored keeping in view the social status of accused and his family, more specifically, his father, who is a former union minister.
“However, only keeping in view the fact of social status of accused and his father, he cannot be treated different from other accused persons and cannot be allowed to be kept in separate prison. However, lock up in-charge and jail superintendent are directed to provide and ensure proper security and safety to accused during judicial custody, as per rules,” the court said.
The court noted the submission of Karti’s counsel that he was the son of former union finance and home minister P Chidambaram, currently a member of Rajya Sabha who had dealt with various stringent penal laws such as TADA, MCOCA, UAPA and NDPS.
It also noted the submission that various undertrials facing prosecution under these laws are lodged in Tihar Jail, where Karti will also be lodged in judicial custody and hence a grave threat to the safety and security of the accused in judicial custody was apprehended.
The court allowed Karti to carry spectacles and medicines as per prescription subject to examination and approval by the jail doctor, but denied his request to carry toiletries, books, clothes and home food. It also said his bail plea would be heard on March 15 as scheduled.
“The hearing of the bail application of accused (Karti) was earlier raised before this court on March 9, (when) the CBI had sought time to file reply to the bail application and in the presence of the counsel for accused, the bail application was put up for consideration on March 15 with the direction to the CBI to supple advance copy to defence.
“Since the bail application is already fixed for filing of reply/consideration on March 15, the present application is dismissed,” the court said.
Meanwhile, Karti’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman, who is currently in jail in a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), has moved the court for anticipatory bail in the CBI case of INX Media. The court is likely to take up Bhaskararaman’s plea later today.
Karti was arrested on his return from the United Kingdom in connection with the FIR lodged on May 15 last year. It alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds of about Rs 305 crore in 2007 when his father was Union finance minister.
The CBI had initially alleged that Karti Chidambaram received Rs 10 lakh as bribe for facilitating Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media. It, however, later revised the figure to USD 1 million (about Rs 6.50 crore at the current exchange rate and Rs 4.50 crore in 2007).
The fresh evidence in the case, which triggered Karti’s arrest, was based on the statement of Indrani Mukerjea, former director of INX Media (P) Ltd who had recorded it under section 164 of the CrPC before a magistrate on February 17.