In a relief of sorts to P Chidambaram, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that the former finance minister will continue to remain in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation till September 5, when it will hear the matter again. The apex court’s direction for continuance of police custody is a relief for the former union minister, as he would have been sent to Tihar jail in judicial custody since CBI did not push for his custody on Tuesday.
“If we don't take his custody then the law must take its course. We don't need his custody,” Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, told the court.
A two-judge bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna, however, said that they will, on Thursday, hear Chidambaram's plea challenging the non-bailable warrant issued against him. The former union minister has also challenged the CBI court's orders remanding him in the CBI custody, which too will be heard on September 5. The court also said it would hear and decide the matter on Thursday itself.
Later in the day, the special CBI court extended Chidambaram’s custody till September 5, as per the directions of the apex court.
While directing that the status quo be maintained, the apex court also asked Chidambaram’s counsel senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, not to press for interim bail before the lower CBI court on Tuesday. On September 5, the apex court is also scheduled to deliver its verdict on a plea moved by the former union minister seeking anticipatory bail from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
During the hearing on Monday, the two-judge Bench of Justice Banumathi and Bopanna of apex court had initially granted Chidambaram protection till Thursday, but later agreed to hear the case on Tuesday after SG Mehta expressed “jurisdictional difficulties” in executing the court’s order.
“Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General, has submitted that the fifteen days of remand of the petitioner expires tomorrow and therefore there may be jurisdictional difficulties in implementing the orders of this Court passed in the forenoon session and requests that the matter be listed tomorrow. In view of above, list the matter tomorrow,” the two-judge Bench had said in its order.
Chidambaram had been arrested by the CBI on August 21 in a case related to alleged irregularities in granting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approvals to INX Media. This was after a single judge Bench of Justice Sunil Gaur of the Delhi High court had rejected his anticipatory bail plea seeking relief from arrest by the CBI and the ED in the case. Justice Gaur had then also turned down the former finance minister’s plea for interim relief from arrest till he moved the court.