Rajat Sharma

How Chidambaram failed in his bid to avoid going to Tihar jail

akbFormer Finance and Home Minister, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member P. Chidambaram was sent to Tihar jail on Thursday for two weeks by a Special CBI court in connection with the INX Media corruption case. He has been lodged in Jail 7, and on court’s orders, allowed to take his glasses and medicines with him.

Chidambaram and his top lawyers made desperate attempts, both in the Supreme Court and then in the Special Court, to prevent him from being sent to prison, but the Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar declined to free him on bail after completion of 15 days in CBI custody.

The Special CBI judge’s order came after a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice R. Bhanumathi and Justice A. S. Bopanna denied bail to Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case being probed by Enforcement Directorate. The apex court said “white-collar crimes are committed with minute planning and deliberate design and in such cases, custodial interrogation is needed and granting bail to an accused before arrest can hamper the probe.”

The Supreme Court said, “Grant of anticipatory bail, particularly in economic offences would definitely hamper effective investigation. Having regard to the materials said to have been collected by ED and considering the stage of the investigation, we are of the view that it is not a fit case to grant anticipatory bail.”

Chidambaram’s lawyers tried another trick by even offering surrender before the ED so that he could at least be placed in their custody instead of being sent to jail, but the ED lawyer said they do not require his custody at this stage.

Chidambaram had been brought to the Special Court on Thursday in a CBI vehicle, and in the evening he was taken away in a jail van to Tihar prison. Pictures of a former Finance and Home Minister sitting alone inside a jail van shall always remain etched in memory.

There was a time when big political leaders, despite facing serious cases, managed to avoid going to prison through legal subterfuge, but the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the very definition of custody.

Chidambaram fielded the country’s top legal eagles like Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Salman Khurshid, but failed in his bid to avoid going to prison.

The charges levelled against the former Union Minister are serious, and the ED is waiting soon after the CBI is over with its probe. If Chidambaram manages to get bail, after going to prison, the ED is surely going to take him into custody. The coming months are surely going to cause more headache to the Congress leader.

It is an irony of fate that Chidambaram was the Home Minister, when BJP leader Amit Shah was sent to jail. At that time, Chidambaram had remarked that the agencies were working independently, the judicial custody was because of a court order and the government had no role in it.

Now that the roles have been reversed, Chidambaram and his friends are crying political vendetta, though the fact remains that he has been sent to jail on court orders and the same agencies are working independently.

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