New Delhi: A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday sent Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P. Chidambaram, to judicial custody till 24 March in Tihar jail, bringing his detention in connection with the INX Media bribery probe to a total of 25 days since his arrest.
Chidambaram’s plea to be kept in a separate cell with a separate bathroom due to security reasons was rejected by judge Sunil Rana, who said, “Only keeping in mind the social status of the accused and his father, he cannot be kept in a separate prison."
But Rana directed the lock-up in-charge and jail superintendent of Tihar jail to provide “proper safety and security" to Karti Chidambaram as per the Delhi Prison Rules, stated in the Delhi Jail Manual.
Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Karti Chidambaram, argued for his client to be secured in a single cell to prevent any harm coming to him for being the son of a former home minister who had directed investigations into various cases under stringent laws such as the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.
Arguing that Karti Chidambaram was an “unconvicted criminal prisoner", a request for home food, books, and toiletries was also made. While the CBI court rejected the books, toiletries and clothes request, it allowed him his spectacles and medicines as per a prescription as well as an examination by the jail doctor.
Karti Chidambaram also moved a bail application which Krishnan argued had to be considered “right away". This application too was rejected by the court as there is already a bail application scheduled to be heard by the CBI court on Thursday.
The CBI sought Karti Chidambaram’s judicial custody on the grounds that there was “sufficient material clearly implicating" him in a serious economic offence.
After his arrest from the Chennai airport on 28 February, Karti Chidambaram was sent to a day’s CBI custody by a special CBI court. His custody, initially extended by five days on 1 March, was further extended, twice, by three days to 9 March and then to 12 March.
Senior CBI officials, who did not wish to be named, said the agency would now push for Peter Mukerjea’s (former INX Media director) custody in order to question him.
A person familiar with the case added that with the existing FIR filed by the CBI “citing P. Chidambaram’s involvement," the former minister would be called in for questioning within the next 10 days.
“It will be a very serious matter but P. Chidambaram can be treated as an accused based on the FIR, as well as Indrani Mukerjea’s (former INX Media director’s) statement. So he will have to be summoned," the person added.
Neither P. Chidambaram nor Karti Chidambaram commented on the developments.
Karti Chidambaram is accused of having received Rs10 lakh in kickbacks in 2007 to clear foreign investments worth Rs305 crore for INX Media, which was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, at a time when P. Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. INX Media is also being probed by both CBI and the Enforcement Directorate over these allegations.