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P Chidambaram Back In Tihar Jail After Court Rejects Probe Agency's Request

P Chidambaram will go back to Delhi's Tihar Jail till November 13, a Delhi court ordered today, moving him to judicial custody in the INX Media case. The former Finance Minister had been shifted out of the jail when he was moved to the Enforcement Directorate's custody earlier this month.

In Tihar Jail, the senior Congress leader will have a separate cell, a western toilet, home-cooked food and medicines, the judge said.

Mr Chidamabaram's Enforcement Directorate custody ended today. His request for bail will be taken up by the Delhi High Court tomorrow. The 74-year-old has asked for bail on health grounds.

Today, the court rejected the Enforcement Directorate's request for one-day custody. Mr Chidambaram's lawyer Kapil Sibal argued that the agency was not confronting any witnesses as it had always told court while seeking longer custody. "Every day it's the same story. ED kept telling court that we have to confront witnesses but not a single day was there any confrontation," said Mr Sibal, also producing a file on the former union minister's medical condition. 

Mr Chidambaram was briefly admitted to AIIMS on Monday after complaints of a stomach ailment. He has asked the court for bail to fly to Hyderabad for treatment. 

Mr Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21. He is accused of a role in irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the INX Media group for the infusion of overseas funds amounting to Rs. 305 crore in 2007, when he was Finance Minister of the country.

On October 16, the Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating money-laundering charges in the case, arrested him from Tihar Jail.

Last week, the Supreme Court granted Mr Chidambaram bail, saying there is no possibility of the former Union Minister absconding and "no whisper" of any evidence that he tried to influence even one witness. 

The top court rejected the CBI's argument that Mr Chidambaram is a flight risk and said the CBI had not provided any evidence on how witnesses were influenced - "SMS, e-mail, letter or telephonic calls and the persons who have approached the material witnesses."

The Congress leader "can be released if he is not required in any other case", the court said, adding that he will have to give a bond of Rs. 1 lakh.

In his first stint, Mr Chidambaram spent more than a month in Tihar, Asia's largest prison facility.

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