In Tihar, with rape accused as inmates

New Delhi: It has been a tumultuous week for former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram. On Monday, the Supreme Court had refused him interim protection and asked him to approach the trial court.

On Thursday, a trial court judge put an end to all legal entreaties by ordering that Chidambaram be sent to Tihar jail. The former Finance Minister has been lodged in jail no 7 which houses 600-700 prisoners, the majority of whom are jailed for crimes against women though the block has traditionally been used to house economic offenders.

So, Chidambaram’s fellow inmates will be the likes of Chhota Rajan, the Agusta Westland middleman Christian Michel, the Nirbhaya case accused and the convicts in the Jesssica murder case.

Chidambaram's son Karti, who is now out on bail, was also lodged in the same jail earlier. The 14-day custody means Chidambaram will spend his 74th birthday - on September 16 – in lockup.

The special CBI trial court remanded Chidambaram to 14-day judicial custody. The Congress leader’s counsel had opposed the plea and instead pleaded for ED custody but he was overruled.

Considering that he enjoys ‘Z’ category security, the court has allowed his request and directed the jail authorities to keep Chidambaram in a separate cell with a cot and an attached toilet with a western-style commode.

He has also been allowed access to his medicine Just before he left for Jail No 17, the former finance minister had a parting shot at the government. "I'm only worried about the economy," he said, in a quick aside with reporters amid the confusion over which agency will transport him.

It was a sequel to his "5 per cent" dig at the GDP growth rate earlier this week. Earlier in the day, senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Chidambaram pleaded before an apex court Bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, "I am begging of you.

Please don't do this. Protect my client till you hear this case. He shouldn't be sent to Tihar". He also pleaded that his client was at an advanced age of 74. ‘‘Put him under house arrest or give interim bail", Sibal argued.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought his judicial custody on the ground that he was a powerful public person and he could definitely influence or hamper the probe.

Sibal, in turn, argued, "There is nothing against him. There is no charge-sheet. If I am a powerful person and I can influence witness, they should bring some evidence of at least an attempt at tampering with evidence or trying to influence witnesses." "Potential of, likely to, apprehension of, can't be the reasons for me going to the judicial custody," he added.

"It is basically humiliation. There must be proof which has to be given," Sibal said.Mehta replied "So far as the ED case is concerned, the Supreme Court has accepted the possibility of tampering.’’

Earlier in the day, another special CBI judge O P Saini in the Rouse Avenue Courts had granted bail to Chidambaram and his son Karti, saying allegation by CBI and ED against them in the Aircel-Maxis case were "not grave" as money laundered is only Rs 1.13 crore, which was too small compared to the charge levelled against former minister Murasoli Maran.

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