NEW DELHI: Former Union Minister P Chidambaram was saved from being sent to Tihar jail in the INX Media case on Monday as a special CBI court on Monday extended his one-day CBI custody and the Supreme Court too, in a partial relief to the Congress veteran, granted him protection from arrest till Thursday.
The apex court is scheduled to hear the case Tuesday. The lower court, which is scheduled to hear Chidambaram’s interim bail plea on Tuesday, said it would await the SC order.However, in a similar case where Chidambaram has challenged the high court judgment and sought relief from arrest by the ED, the bench is scheduled to pronounce its order on September 5.
The SC bench headed by Justice R Banumathi, while hearing Chidambaram’s plea against arrest by the CBI, granted him protection till Thursday. In its order, the bench directed the CBI court to take up the former minister’s plea for interim bail on Monday itself. It, however, added a caveat: if the trial court decided to reject his interim bail plea, Chidambaram would not be sent to judicial custody and would remain in CBI custody till Thursday, when the SC would take up the matter again.
During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued to keep Chidambaram out of Tihar and told the bench, “There must be some protection to Chidambaram. He is 74 years old. Let him be put under house arrest and not sent to Tihar jail.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared before the bench and expressed difficulties in carrying out the SC order. He told the bench that the CBI would press for only one day custody, so that the SC could take up the matter on Tuesday.
“Learned Solicitor General, has submitted that the 15 days of remand of the petitioner expires tomorrow and therefore there may be jurisdictional difficulties in implementing the orders of this court passed in the forenoon session and requests that the matter be listed tomorrow,” the order read.
Procedure has to be followed, Mehta to SC
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pressed for deferring hearing on Chidambaram’s bail plea and told the CBI court that the probe agency wanted to submit a detailed reply and therefore 10 days time should be given. “The personal liberty of a common man, a rickshaw driver is not less than Chidambaram. Procedure has to be followed,” Mehta said.