Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday won a reprieve from the Supreme Court and avoided the prospect of being sent to Tihar jail till Thursday after the Central Bureau of Investigation was ordered to take further custody of the former finance minister despite its insistence his custodial interrogation was no longer required in the INX Media corruption case.
The apex court simultaneously asked the 73-year-old Congress leader not to press for the interim bail plea filed before the trial court till Thursday.
The plea was filed on Monday and was to be taken up during the day.
Just an hour after the apex court ordered that Chidambaram will continue to be be in the CBI custody till Thursday, he was produced before the trial court.
The court of Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar remanded him to two more days of CBI custody.
Thursday will be a crucial day for the Congress veteran when his 15-day CBI remand ordered by Judge Kuhar in five spells comes to an end.
The apex court on Tuesday said it would hear on Thursday Chidambaram's plea in which he has challenged the non-bailable warrant issued against him as well as the subsequent trial court orders remanding him to the CBI custody in the case.
Chidambaram can either get interim bail on his plea for this relief or be sent to jail in judicial custody on the expiry of the CBI remand.
In a related matter, the apex court noted it would pronounce its order on Thursday on Chidambaram's separate plea in which he has challenged the August 20 verdict of the Delhi High Court denying him anticipatory bail in the INX Media money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorat.
The Congress leader was arrested on the night of August 21 and produced before the trial court the next day.
On Thursday, Special Judge O P Saini is also expected to pronounce his order on the anticipatory bail pleas of Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis cases lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.
During the apex court hearing in the INX Media corruption case, the CBI said it does not require Chidambaram for further interrogation but the apex court ordered "status quo" that will make him remain in the agency's custody till Thursday.
"The present status quo will continue till then. CBI's custody will be extended till day after tomorrow (September 5)," said a bench of justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna.
"You should not press the interim bail application till September 5," the bench told Sibal and Singhvi.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, told the top court that an accused cannot say that he does not want to go to jail under judicial custody and said, "We (CBI) do not need his custody".
"One person does not want to go to jail (under judicial custody)," Mehta said, adding, "If we don't take his custody then the law must take its course."
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Chidambaram, said they would not press for the interim bail plea before the trial court and that CBI's custody be extended till September 5.
While posting the matter for hearing on Thursday, the bench said: "We are conscious that we should not usurp the jurisdiction of the concerned trial court."
The CBI lodged an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as union finance minister.
Thereafter the ED odged a separate money laundering case in 2017.
Chidambaram was the finance minister and home minister during the UPA-I and UPA-II government from 2004 to 2014.