P Chidambaram to stay in Tihar jail, orders high court in setback to ex-FM

P Chidambaram to stay in Tihar jail, orders high court in setback to ex-FM

There is no need to admit former finance minister P Chidambaram to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a medical board told the Delhi High Court on Friday. The board, which included a nominee of the veteran Congress leader, had been set up by the high court yesterday to determine if there was a need to move the 74-year-old politician to a sterile room at AIIMS.

Chidambaram had earlier this week requested interim bail for six days for his treatment by a family doctor at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG) in Hyderabad.

Chidambaram’s legal team told the high court that the senior politician had lost 7 kgs over the last 70 days – from 73 kg to 66 kg – and his health was deteriorating in custody. This request was the starting point for Justice Suresh Kait to evaluate if Chidambaram should be moved to AIIMS.

The AIIMS board recommended that there was no need to admit him to hospital but added that he should be kept in a clean environment.

Justice Kait ordered Tihar jail superintendent to keep P Chidambaram’s cell clean and give him protection against mosquitoes. The judge also allowed Chidambaram access to bottled water and a face mask.

The senior Congress leader was arrested in the INX Media case on August 21 by the Central Bureau of Investigation which probed alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board granting INX Media clearance to receive foreign direct investment in excess of the approved amount. The clearance was given to the broadcaster in 2007 when Chidambaram was finance minister.

The former minister was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the case probed by the CBI. But before the top court ruled, he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on charges of money laundering on October 16.

Friday’s order by the high court disposes of his request for interim bail in the case investigated by the ED. But his primary petition to seek bail is still pending with the judge.

On Thursday, Chidambaram was sent to Tihar jail by a special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar at the end of his questioning by the ED. The federal agency did ask the court for one more day. But the judge ruled that the agency had already been given “sufficient time” to grill him. Judge Kuhar also noted that the ED had opposed Chidambaram’s request to let him surrender in this case back in August and did not approach the court to question the Rajya Sabha member when he was judicial custody in the CBI case.

On solicitor general Tushar Mehta point that Chidambaram had been evasive, judge Kuhar said the “right against self incrimination is protected by the law”.

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