The Republic Summit 2019 on Wednesday witnessed a fascinating debate between senior advocate Salman Khurshid and BJP Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi on senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s arrest in the INX Media case. While Khurshid, who is a Congress leader himself explained that the circumstances of his colleague’s arrest evoked suspicion, Lekhi defended the treatment meted out to him. Thereafter, Khurshid questioned why even basic facilities such as a chair and home-cooked food could not be provided to Chidambaram. But the BJP MP maintained that rules were equally applicable to everyone, irrespective of their status.
Khurshid said, “Since you have mentioned a very valuable colleague of mine, I will not miss the chance of saying only one sentence. That I believe in Mr.Chidambaram. I believe that he is an outstanding product of the Indian political system. I don’t argue here on the specifics of the case that is put up against him. But my understanding is that there is a system in this country that we believe innocence till proven guilty. Nobody can believe that a former Finance Minister of the country can run away. I think there’s a little bit of exaggeration there. He offers himself for arrest when he is in custody and he is told that we don’t want you arrested now. Then when the time comes to leave custody, then immediately pounce and say that we want to arrest you. I think there could have been better class in dealing with this. Do keep in mind that someone has a stature, standing, and background.”
Lekhi responded, “Absolutely not. Because there is a system in place. And this system is treating what the person deserves. And he has been a defaulter of the system and had he not been a defaulter of the system, the investigation against him- you chargesheet him in one case, the other case comes up, other evidences come up. And the system is going to treat him the way anybody else is treated. If a person of that stature is found corrupt, involved in wrongdoings has to be treated. Khurshid would agree with me, everyone is equal before the law no matter even if you are a Finance Minister.”
“I think there is something which is very distressing, the manner in which people have gone after him. Also please explain it to me- is it too much to offer a chair to a person like Mr.Chidamabaram when he is in custody? Is it too much to allow him food to come from home? It is been done a thousand of times. Why make an exception to show that you want to make a person break down? He deserves the same sensitivity and dignity that any person in the country would deserve,” Khurshid opined.
Meenakshi Lekhi argued, “The rules matter equally to all no matter which status you come from. And whatever courtesies you intend to offer to Chidambaram, you have Manu Sharma and several others in the jail. Should they be given the same? And where will the list end then? I think rules have to be followed irrespective of who the person is. I can understand your dilemma but for me, it is a case like any other case.”