Lost five kg in jail, suffered two bouts of illness: Chidambaram to SC

Chidambaram sought bail from the top court in the case and said following the two bouts of illness, he was administered antibiotics

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram after he was produced in a CBI court in the INX media case, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram, under arrest in the INX Media corruption case, told the Supreme Court on Friday that in the last 43 days in jail, he had lost five kg weight and suffered two bouts of illness.

Chidambaram sought bail from the top court in the case and said following the two bouts of illness, he was administered antibiotics.

A bench of justices R Banumathi, A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy was told by Chidambaram's lawyer Kapil Sibal that "during his 43 days in jail, he had suffered two bouts of illness for five and seven days respectively and was administered antibiotics".

"He has lost weight from 73.5 kg to 68.5 kg," the senior advocate told the court.

Sibal said with the onset of winter, the 74-year-old Congress leader might face more health complications.

He said the arguments of the CBI were based on a false and baseless apprehension that Chidambaram could influence witnesses or tamper with evidence.

Sibal said the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) contention was that there was an approver's statement against Chidambaram, but in law, it was considered to be the weakest form of evidence.

The courtroom saw heated exchanges between Sibal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, when the former said filing of chargesheet was no ground for denial of bail as "everyone knows what happened in the 2G scam case. After the filing of the chargesheet, all the accused were acquitted".

Mehta objected to the 2G scam reference and pointed out that the matter was sub-judice and an appeal was pending before the high court.

He said the country needed to have "zero tolerance" towards corruption and the court, being a judicial institution, must take a call on it.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for Chidambaram, said if the "nation test" was applied, then an incarcerated accused would never get bail.

"The court does justice in individual cases and not in national causes," he said.

Chidambaram was arrested in the corruption case by the CBI on August 21. He is currently lodged in Tihar Jail here.

The central agency had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister.

Thereafter, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) lodged a money-laundering case in this regard in 2017.