By Sanjeev Kumar Singh Chauhan
New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Former Finance and Home Minister P. Chidambaram would be spending his next four nights in the plush CBI headquarters on Lodhi Road during the police remand, but his stay in his expected judicial custody would be rather harsh. Tentative arrangements are being chalked out at Tihar jail, once the CBI custody of the high-profile prisoner ends.
Highly placed sources in the Tihar jail told IANS that Chidambaram, in all probability, is expected to be sent to jail once his CBI remand is done.
“We are not concerned with the period of CBI or ED custody. We are making preparations for his judicial custody, as he is expected to be lodged in Tihar, as per the jurisdiction,” said a senior official of the Tihar jail, considered the biggest prison complex in Asia.
Sources said as of now, Chidambaram, if not granted bail in coming weeks, would be lodged in Jail No 7 meant for economic offenders.
As Jail No 7 has a few tightly-packed wards and a couple of cells, smaller in size, the administration can vacate a barrack to accommodate Chidambaram. Besides economic offenders, the accused involved in crimes against women, including molestation cases, are also kept in Jail No 7.
As per jail manual, inmates sleep on the floor, but senior citizens are provided a ‘wooden takht’ without a mattress. Sources said after a medical test, Chidambaram, 73, would be provided this to sleep.
He will have to eat food prepared in the jail. The food (lunch and dinner) includes a bowl of dal, one of vegetables and 4 to 5 chapattis.
In case Chidambaram, reportedly fond of south Indian meals, does not eat food prepared in the jail, then he reserves the right to order snacks cooked in the jail canteen. The jail can provide extra facilities, if the accused procures any court order in his favour.
Those undergoing trials can be provided clothes by their family.
In case intelligence reports suggest a high threat perception for India’s former Home Minister who took several initiatives after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Chidambaram could be shifted to Jail No 1 which has an increased deployment of Tamil Nadu Special Police, guarding the outer periphery of security layer in Tihar for the last three decades.
“Top builders of Delhi NCR and 2G spectrum scam accused are lodged in Jail No 1. Sahara supremo Subrato Roy and former Chairman of Commonwealth Games (2010) Organizing Committee, Suresh Kalmadi, was also lodged in the same jail,” said a source.
Jail No 1 has an exclusive kitchen attached to the wards and also has western style toilets. Regarding the food, an official said: “Food remains the same as served in the rest of jails in Tihar.”
Earlier on Thursday, Chidambaram was sent to CBI custody till August 26 by a special court. The judge also said that to safeguard Chidambaram’s right as the citizen, the investigating agency will ensure that his personal dignity is not violated in any manner.
The court granted permission for Chidamabaram’s family to meet him during the duration of the custody for half an hour every day. It also asked a medical examination to be conducted after every 48 hours.
In the CBI HQs, which coincidentally he had inaugurated as then Home Minister, Chidambaram has been kept in a suite on the ground floor. The suites, which have ACs, geysers, fridges, double beds and TVs, are meant to accommodate visiting agency officials of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above.
According to sources, alleged AgustaWestland deal middleman Christian Michel and controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi’s aide Satish Babu Sana were also put up in these rooms during their CBI custody.
For others, especially hard-core criminals, the CBI office has a lock-up.
The former Union Minister is under the scanner for his role in the conspiracy for a downstream investment by INX Media (P) Ltd in M/s INX News (P) Ltd. without the approval of the FIPB. It is also alleged that his son Karti Chidambaram exerted influence on public servant of the FIPB in the Finance Ministry to prevent punitive action against INX Group.
(Sanjeev Kumar Singh Chauhan can be contacted at [email protected])