New Delhi, 22 Aug, 2019: “If given a choice between life and liberty, I would choose liberty,” former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in a press conference at AICC headquarters, his first public appearance since the past 24 hours, minutes before his arrest by CBI.
"I believe the foundation of democracy is liberty. If asked to choose between life and liberty, I would choose liberty," said the senior Congress leader who was not seen in public since the Delhi High court refused to protect him from arrest on Tuesday. "All we wanted is a hearing. No one is running away. I was aghast at reports that I was hiding from the law, but on the contrary, I was engaged in pursuit of justice. I am not running away. My lawyers, who are also friends and colleagues in the party, advised me to approach the Supreme Court. I did so yesterday evening and today. While my lawyers approaching the Supreme Court I and my team of leaders were busy preparing documents all through the night,” said the 73-year-old.
Explaining his absence from the public eye, he said: "I was working alongside my lawyers whole of last night... and the whole day". "Respect for the law can mean only one thing -- await (the Supreme Court's) decision on Friday... Until Friday, let's hope the lamp of liberty will shine bright," he said in what was seen as a message to the investigative agencies that have been pursuing him since Tuesday evening.
On the Supreme Court declining to give an urgent hearing on his anticipatory bail application, the former Minister said "I bow down to the orders of the Supreme Court and between now and Friday, I shall respect the law even if it’s applied unequally by investigating agencies". "Now I shall walk with a clear conscience and head held high. In the name of freedom, I can only hope and pray that investigative agencies will respect the law", Mr Chidambaram added.