Karti Chidambaram was on Monday sent to 13-day judicial custody in the INX Media corruption case by a Delhi court which also dismissed his plea to provide him a separate cell in Tihar Jail due to his threat perception.
While rejecting Karti's plea for separate cell and bathroom, Special Judge Sunil Rana said he cannot be treated differently from other accused persons just because of his and his father, former Union minister P Chidambaram's social status.
"The apprehension raised by the senior counsel for accused cannot be ignored keeping in view the social status of accused and his family, more specifically, his father who is a former Union minister.
"However, only keeping in view the fact of social status of accused and his father, he cannot be treated different from other accused persons and cannot be allowed to be kept in separate prison. However, lock up in-charge and jail superintendent are directed to provide and ensure proper security and safety to accused during judicial custody, as per rules," the court said.
Karti, who was produced on the expiry of his three-day police remand before the court, had sought proper security and separate prison claiming there was threat to his life as his father P Chidambaram, who as a Union minister in the previous United Progressive Alliance government had handled several sensitive issues.
The court sent him to Tihar Jail, after the Central Bureau of Investigation, in whose custody he was quizzed continuously for 12 days since his arrest on February 28 in Chennai, said he was no longer required for further custodial interrogation.
"In view of the fact that no more police custody remand of accused is sought by the CBI, accused Karti Chidambaram is remanded to judicial custody. He be produced on March 24," the special judge said.
During the hearing, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Karti, moved the application seeking adequate security and that he should not be kept with other prisoners, while maintaining that there was a clear threat perception as several terrorists had been prosecuted during P Chidambaram's tenure as the union home minister
"He is the son of former union home minister. Many terrorists have been prosecuted during his tenure and there is a clear threat perception in the matter to the petitioner (Karti). His father P Chidambaram has dealt with stringent penal laws including TADA, MCOCA, UAPA and NDPS posing a huge security threat to Karti," Krishnan said, adding that Karti cannot be exposed to criminals.
CBI counsel V K Sharma opposed the application for a separate cell and bathroom saying there was no threat to Karti.
To this, Krishnan said it was shocking that the investigating agency was objecting to Karti's security in jail and such objection also enhanced the threat perception.
"CBI opposing a separate prison, gives me further apprehension and shows political motive and enhances my threat perception. The organisation investigating me should be concerned about my security. I am appalled. There is a mala fide intent in opposing it. I'm shocked that CBI can oppose my plea for security. Can it be denied,” he asked.
The court, however, allowed Karti to carry spectacles and medicines as per prescription subject to examination and approval by the jail doctor, but denied his request to carry toiletries, books, clothes and home food. It also said his bail plea would be heard on March 15 as scheduled.
"The hearing of the bail application of accused (Karti) was earlier raised before this court on March 9, (when) the CBI had sought time to file reply to the bail application and in the presence of the counsel for accused, the bail application was put up for consideration on March 15 with the direction to the CBI to supple advance copy to defence.
"Since the bail application is already fixed for filing of reply/consideration on March 15, the present application is dismissed," the court said.
Meanwhile, Karti's chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman, who is currently in jail in a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate, has moved the court for anticipatory bail in the CBI case of INX Media.
Karti was arrested on his return from the United Kingdom in connection with the first information report lodged on May 15 last year.
It alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds of about Rs 305 crore in 2007 when his father was Union finance minister.
The CBI had initially alleged that Karti Chidambaram received Rs 10 lakh as bribe for facilitating FIPB clearance to INX Media. It, however, later revised the figure to $1 million (about Rs 6.50 crore at the current exchange rate and Rs 4.50 crore in 2007).
The fresh evidence in the case, which triggered Karti's arrest, was based on the statement of Indrani Mukerjea, former director of INX Media (P) Ltd who had recorded it under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before a magistrate on February 17.