New Delhi: Former finance and home minister P Chidambaram will spend the next 14 days in jail number 7 at Tihar prison after a Delhi court remanded him to judicial custody till September 19 in the INX media case. Reserved mainly for economic offenders, jail number 7 had previously also housed the veteran Congress leader’s son Karti.
The court has allowed Chidambaram to carry his medicines to jail and directed that he be kept in a separate cell as he was a protectee under Z-security.
Sources in the Tihar jail said prison officials had been making preparations for his judicial custody since the last week of August, when the court had first remanded him to CBI custody. Besides economic offenders, the accused involved in crimes against women, including molestation cases, are also kept in Jail No 7.
Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who is being probed by the ED in connection with the AgustaWestland and a bank fraud case, is also lodged in this jail.
Jail No 7 mainly has a few tightly-packed wards and a couple of cells. 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, the 73-year-old Chidambaram would be provided a 'takht' to sleep. A provision for a western toilet will also be made in the cell.
A prison official said food is usually served to the inmates between 7 pm and 8 pm but it is kept aside for those who arrive late due to court procedures. The food (lunch and dinner) includes a bowl of dal, a dish of vegetables, and four to five chapattis. In case Chidambaram, reportedly fond of south Indian meals, does not eat food prepared in the jail, he reserves the right to order snacks cooked in the jail canteen. The prison can provide extra facilities if the accused procures any court order in his favour.
Chidambaram will be lodged in the cell from 9 pm to 6 am. Breakfast will be served between 7 am and 8 am, the official added.
Officials said he can either drink water from a reverse ssmosis plant or purchase packaged bottle from the canteen. "He will also have access to the prison's library and also watch television, just like a normal inmate," the official added.
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) Organising 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 western-style toilets. Regarding the food, an official said, "Food remains the same as served in the rest of jails in Tihar."
(With inputs from agencies)