- Supreme Court extends P Chidambaram's custody till Thursday
- In top court, his lawyer Kapil Sibal fought to keep him out of Tihar Jail
- Let him be put under house arrest and not sent to Tihar Jail: Kapil Sibal
Former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Monday avoided going to Delhi's Tihar Jail, with the Supreme Court extending his CBI custody till Thursday. A lower court also granted the CBI one more day of custody and said it would decide on his interim bail plea today.
In the Supreme Court, his lawyer and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal fought to keep him out of Tihar jail. "There must be some protection to Chidambaram. He is 74 years old. Let him be put under house arrest and not sent to Tihar Jail," Mr Sibal appealed for his Congress colleague, who has spent 11 days in CBI custody since his arrest on August 21.
In CBI custody, Mr Chidambaram has been put up in a room on the ground floor of the agency's headquarters in Delhi. If he is sent to judicial custody, he will be taken to Tihar, Asia's largest prison facility, where he will be treated like other prisoners.
The top court said the former Finance Minister, arrested by the CBI in a corruption case, should apply for regular bail before the competent court.
Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna questioned why Mr Chidambaram was not asking for bail from the special CBI court, which has to decide on whether to extend his custody. House arrest, they added, was only for political prisoners.
"You can't humiliate people like this,"Mr Sibal responded, wondering what would happen if the trial court rejected the request and sent him to jail.
The CBI, which is investigating allegations against Mr Chidambaram in the INX Media case, said it was the special CBI court which has to decide on where the Congress leader should be held. The agency insisted that he should be granted no protection.
The top court finally ordered three more days of CBI custody and decided to take up Mr Chidambaram's case on Thursday.
Mr Chidambaram later requested interim bail at the special CBI court, where the CBI pressed for and was granted one more day of custody.
The court will decide today on whether to grant him bail. Despite the Supreme Court ordering a decision today, the CBI's lawyer, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, argued that he must get more time to oppose bail. "The personal liberty of a common man, a rickshaw driver is not less than Chidambaram. Procedure has to be followed," Mr Mehta said.
Mr Chidambaram's wife Nalini Chidambaram, a senior lawyer who was present in court, handed him a book, the Kamba Ramayanam or the Tamil version of Ramayana.
Mr Chidambaram is accused by the CBI of facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds into the media company INX Media in 2007, when he was Finance Minister, at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks for his role.
Mr Chidambaram and his son were named by INX Media co-founders Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are in jail in Mumbai for the murder of Indrani's daughter Sheena Bora. Indrani Mukerjea, who turned approver in the case, reportedly revealed details of her meeting with the Chidambarams.