NEW DELHI — Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was on Sept. 5 lodged in the capital's Tihar Jail where he will not find it easy to adjust to the stifling barracks which will be a far cry from his days in North Block.
Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram was also lodged in the same jail earlier.
A court here sent Chidambaram to 14-day judicial custody in the INX Media case.
The span will cover Chidambaram's 74th birthday - on Sept. 16 - which he will have to spend locked up.
A day earlier, senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Chidambaram pleaded before an apex court Bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, "I am begging of you. Please don't do this. Protect me till you hear this case. He shouldn't be sent to Tihar.” He pleaded this citing his client's age of 74.
During the hearing, a high-decibel argument broke out between the legal teams of Chidambaram and the CBI.
Chidambaram's lawyers argued hard and cited several legal citations. Sibal didn't refrain from expressing his fear that the trial court judge might not hold back from sending Chidambaram to Tihar jail. "Put him under house arrest or give an interim bail,” Sibal pleaded.
The apex court didn't accede to his house arrest plea.
The court has allowed the former Union Minister to take his medicines along with him to Tihar Jail. Since Chidambaram enjoys Z-category security, the court also allowed him to be kept in a separate cell with adequate arrangements for his security.
The senior Congress leader, who was arrested by the CBI in the case last month and had undergone interrogation, will be lodged in Tihar Jail till Sept. 19.
With a high-profile undertrial like Chidambaram set to be lodged in the prison, one would expect special arrangements to be made.
On being asked about any specific preparations, Director General of Prisons, Sandeep Goyal told IANS: "A jail is a jail. We only follow the court's orders. No one lodged in a jail is special."
He said Chidambaram would be treated like a normal prisoner.
Chidambaram is facing trial for financial crimes and is also aged above 70 but Goyal only said "We will do what the jail manual says," as he brushed aside any security concerns.
Jail No. 7 houses 600-700 inmates, the majority of whom are jailed for crimes against women though the block has traditionally been used to house economic offenders.
The process to lodge Chidambaram will start with his thumbprint being taken on his entry into the jail as CBI officials will hand over all the legal documents to the jail staff to begin the official paperwork.
The jail staff will be given details of the charges against the high-profile inmate who will need to inform them about his family details and who will come to visit him in jail.
In view of his advanced age, he will be provided services of a physician to check his blood pressure at night. He may also be given personal use of the barrack that normally houses 10 inmates.
Apart from his clothes, he will not be allowed to carry anything from his home.
Chidambaram will also have to eat the jail's 'dal-roti' in plastic utensils or he can get food from the jail canteen.
He will also be required to attend early morning prayers like all other inmates.
A jail official, asked how new inmates are woken up in the morning, simply said: "Do you think a high-profile inmate like Chidambaram will be able to get any sleep in the jail cell on his first night?"