New Delhi: Former union minister P Chidambaram told a Delhi Court today that he had neither a chair nor a pillow at the Tihar prison, where he has been jailed since September 5. The 74-year-old had “developed back pain” because of that, his lawyers said, petitioning for his medical examination even as the court extended his custody till October 3.
“There were chairs outside the room, I used to sit there during the day, now that too is withdrawn. Because I was using it, they have taken it away, now even the warden is without a chair,” Chidambaram said, interjecting after his lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi made a case for his release.
“He had a chair till three days ago. Now there is no chair and no pillow either,” said Singhvi.
The government said it was a “small issue” and there had been no chair in the cell in the first place.
“It’s a small issue. No need to sensationalise it. It’s a petty chair. There was no chair in his room from beginning,” said the government’s lawyer Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General.
Chidambaram’s legal team protested after the judge set October 3 as the next date of hearing. “Custody cannot be mechanically extended. What’s the ground for extension,” questioned Sibal.
Singhvi referred to various judgements where the court had said custody should be extended not mechanically but on valid grounds.
“Mr Chidambaram has already completed 14 days of police remand and 14 days of judicial remand. What’s the reason for extension,” he asked.
Sibal said if at all the Congress leader’s custody was being extended, it should be for a shorter period. He also urged a medical examination at AIIMS or RML hospital.
Chidambaram is accused of signing off, as the country’s finance minister, a huge infusion of foreign funds into the company INX Media in 2007. His son Karti Chidambaram is accused of receiving kickbacks for facilitating the process.
The Chidambarams were named by INX co-founders Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are in jail in Mumbai in connection with the murder of Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.
Chidambaram, who celebrated his 74th birthday on Monday, is in good health, reported news agency PTI. The former union minister has kept his Twitter timeline active from jail, targeting the government on various subjects including the detention recently of veteran Jammu and Kashmir politician Farooq Abdullah under the stringent Public Safety Act.