Chidambaram not to go to Tihar till SC hears plea
New Delhi, Sep. 2 (PTI): On a day of fast-paced developments, Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday got partial relief from the Supreme Court which said he would not be sent to Tihar Jail as of now in the INX Media corruption case after the former finance minister offered to be under house arrest instead of being sent to prison.
The apex court initially, at around 1.40 pm, asked the trial court to consider Chidambaram’s request for interim bail on Monday itself and said that in case he is not granted the relief, his CBI custody would be extended by three more days.
However, hours after the top court passed the order, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the matter at around 3 pm and said there would be “jurisdictional difficulty” in implementing the order passed earlier in the day.
After hearing him, a bench of justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna modified the order and advanced the hearing for Tuesday from Thursday (September 5) on Chidambaram’s plea challenging the non-bailable warrant (NBW) against him and remand orders passed by trial court.
The order was modified on oral mentioning after Mehta said that as per his calculation “15 days remand period of Chidambaram would expire tomorrow or at best day after tomorrow” and CBI cannot take his custody for three more days.
Taking note of Mehta’s submissions, the bench said, “CBI is at liberty to move the trial court for seeking extension of remand till tomorrow.”
When the case was heard in pre-lunch session, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chidambaram, questioned the NBW issued against the former Union minister and said Chidambaram has already been in CBI’s custody for last 12 days.
Sibal said that till Chidambaram’s plea is decided by the apex court, he should be granted interim bail or be put in house arrest.
“A competent court is seized of the matter,” the bench told Sibal, who said Chidambaram is entitled to challenge the remand orders.
When the bench said Chidambaram should move regular bail, Sibal said, “Why should I be sent to Tihar jail?”
He said if Chidambaram was sent to Tihar, then his plea before the apex court would become infructuous.
When the bench asked the CBI to file reply to Chidambaram’s plea and posted the matter for hearing on September 5, Sibal said, “Let him be in house arrest till then. He is not running away. Let the petition not become infructuous”.
When the bench said Chidambaram’s counsel can request the trial court to give him interim relief, Sibal said the trial judge would “reject” it.
“They (CBI) cannot humiliate a person like this,” he said, adding that the top court can order status quo till it hears Chidambaram’s plea.
Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for CBI, opposed the grant of interim relief to Chidambaram and said an accused cannot say that he wants to be in either police custody or judicial custody.
He said the trial court would decide on issue of remand and no interim direction should be passed by the apex court.
“Having regard to the submission made at the Bar, the petitioner (Chidambaram) is permitted to move the concerned court seeking appropriate relief including the prayer for interim bail/extension of police custody and other remedies if any available in accordance with law,” the bench said.
“The concerned court shall consider the prayer for interim bail/extension of police custody of the petitioner and pass order today itself. In case request for prayer for interim bail/extension of police custody is rejected, the court concerned shall extend the interim police custody of the petitioner for three days in view of the pendency of this petition(s),” the top court said.