INX Media case: How Chidambaram spent night at Tihar jail
The worst fears of former Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, came true on Thursday after a special court ordered that he should be sent to judicial custody at Tihar jail. Soon, Chidambaram, a tall leader of Congress, was taken to Asia's largest prison facility, in a police van. Till September 19, Jail no. 7, ward no. 2 and cell no. 15, will be Chidambaram's "home".
Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are probing Chidambaram for allegedly facilitating illegal FDI into INX Media, as the Finance Minister of India. On August 20, Delhi High Court didn't provide him with anticipatory bail. CBI moved first and arrested him after an immense drama on August 21. Since then Chidambaram's CBI custody was repeatedly extended, and it ended on Thursday.
Before the Tihar decision, Chidambaram suffered a major blow in Supreme Court, which refused to give him pre-arrest bail in the case lodged by ED. The ball then went in the trial court of Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar, who had to decide whether to send Chidambaram to judicial custody (since the 15-day limit for CBI custody ended) or give him bail. Kuhar chose former.
In Tihar, Chidambaram was kept in jail no.7, meant for first-time economic offenders, and those booked on dowry charges. This jail is relatively less crowded than others, reports Indian Express. Next to Chidambaram's cell is lodged, Yasin Malik, the chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). Chidambaram got six blankets, a cot, a fan, and a western toilet, as ordered by the court.
According to TOI, the former Finance Minister ate dal and rice for dinner, skipping sabzi and roti. Chidambaram will stay in his cell between 9 PM and 6 AM. At 6 AM, inmates come out and are served tea with two biscuits. "The breakfast is served between 8 AM and 9 AM and to collect it, they have to come in a queue," a jail official told IE.
Undertrials can refuse jail work, and choose to walk, sit, read, or teach other prisoners, in the meantime. "Chidambaram can get some specific books from his family members, but only if they are allowed by the jail superintendent. Apart from his advocates, a maximum of 10 people from his family or among friends can meet him every day," the official added.
Chidambaram will not be given any special menu. Lunch will be served to him between 10:30 AM and 11:30 AM; and like other inmates, he'll be asked to return to his cell from 12.30 to 3.30 PM. "He will be allowed to come out and he can then play a sport with other prisoners. Around 6.45 PM, dinner will be served," the person said.
"He can drink water from an RO plant or purchase a packaged bottle from the jail canteen. He can get a pen and paper from jail stationery. He will also have access to the jail's library," the official said.
Before Chidambaram, his son Karti (also an accused in INX Media case), Ratul Puri (nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath), Christian Michel James (middleman and accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam), Rajiv Saxena, (accused-turned-approver) and lobbyist Deepak Talwar were kept in the same jail. Chidambaram will get Z-security and was allowed to carry his medicines to prison.