File photo of Vijay Mallya.
India

Has the Govt Built A New Luxurious Cell For Vijay Mallya?

Has the Indian government constructed a special cell for the fugitive liquor baron, Vijay Mallya?

The Quint has accessed the inspection report of the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) for the period starting 1 November 2010 to 31 July 2017. The report reveals that the jail is not only overcrowded but also doesn’t have enough toilets, bathing places and security guards.

The CAG report has no mention of an independent building with a separate cell and attached bathroom where the government proposes to keep Mallya if extradited to India from UK.

The RTI activist, Vihar Dhurve, managed to access the CAG report under the RTI Act, 2005.

The inspection report says:

“Overcrowding in prisons resulted in the denial of ground, air and lateral ventilation spaces to the prisoners, which could affect their mental and physical health. It also puts pressure on utilities such as water supply, sewerage systems. Work load of the security staff also increased, hampering their ability to control crime and violence in the prisons.”

On Wednesday, 12 September 2018, the Westminster Court in London, during Vijay Mallya’s extradition hearing, watched the Arthur Road Jail video submitted by the Indian authorities. The court had earlier demanded a video of the jail from the Indian government to check on its condition, following Mallya’s claims of the jail being in “poor condition” and having “no natural light”.

The eight-minute-long video, as reported by CNN-IBN, shows the barrack number 12 of the jail, where Mallya will be lodged, situated in an independent building. It lists six important features of the cell:

  • The building is well-guarded from both sides.
  • Wide corridor that leads to the cell has fresh air and light.
  • The cell is spread out over 300 sq feet and is 15-feet-wide and 20-feet-long. One side of the barrack is protected by an iron wall and the other side has windows and ventilators.
  • The cell has an attached bathroom with modern amenities.
  • The barrack has 3 fans, 6 tube-lights and 5 ventilators.
  • It also has a 40-inch Plasma TV.

New Cell Constructed for Mallya?

The one-year-old CAG inspection report shows lack of all basic amenities in Arthur Road Jail, which the government claimed the jail has in the eight-minute-long video submitted in Westminster Court. The report also doesn’t mention an independent building or cell under construction.

So has the government built a special cell for fugitive Mallya so that they succeed in extraditing him from UK?

“As per the rule, it is allowed to construct a new cell to keep a prisoner in isolation if his life is under threat and he requires security. The cell will also have an attached bathroom.”
Sunil Gupta, former Public Information Officer, Tihar Jail

But can it be as luxurious as shown in the video with a 40-inch TV and a modern bathroom?

Arthur Road Jail Has 342% Excess Prisoners: CA&G

The Arthur Road Jail has a sanctioned capacity of 804 prisoners but on an average, the prison has 342 percent excess prisoners.

As per the report, the CAG inspectors noted 2,749 prisoners in the jail – an excess of 1,945 prisoners.

The report also mentioned that some cells which have capacity of 196 prisoners were on an average stuffed with 825 prisoners.

As per the Model Prison Manual, there are three types of accommodation as mentioned below:

  • Barracks with room for not more than 20 prisoners.
  • Single-room accommodation for prisoners in need of privacy for pursuing studies etc.
  • Separate accommodation for prisoners having special security needs and contagious diseases.

Secondly, the prison requires 275 covered bathing places but has only “8 open bathroom platforms”.

If indeed the government has constructed a new cell for Mallya, then will it bend time and again to accommodate the needs of other offenders, charged with similar crimes as Mallya?

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