Preferential treatment for Sasikala in prison exposed

Last Updated 21 January 2019, 02:10 IST

Expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala and her relative J Ilavarsi, convicted in a disproportionate assets case, enjoyed class-A prisoner’s preferential treatment at the Parappana Agrahara central prison, says the inquiry report by retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar submitted to the government.

Kumar started his inquiry on July 17, 2017 after the then DIG prisons, D Roopa, came out publicly alleging that her senior and the prison top brass, H N S Rao, was offered a bribe for offering special treatment to Sasikala.

Over the fracas between the two senior IPS officers, the state government sent H N S Rao on leave. He was due for retirement in a few days, and DIG Roopa was subsequently transferred as the Traffic And Road Safety commissioner, Bengaluru.

Kumar’s inquiry report revealed that there were ‘glaring lapses’ and ‘falsification of records’ by senior prison officials for facilitating special treatment to Sasikala at the central prison. Silmilar lapses were found in the case of Abdul Karim Telgi, who died in October last year.

The government has handed over the inquiry report to the ACB (Anti Corruption Bureau) to further proceed with legal action under Prevention of Corruption charges.

5 cells for two, special kitchen

Preparations for ‘special treatment’ started on February 14, 2017, a day prior to the arrival of Sasikala at the central prison. Twenty women prisoners were shifted from five adjoining spacious cells on the first floor of the women’s barrack to make space for the two (Sasikala and Ilavarsi).

There were 28 cells available in the barrack for 100 women prisoners and the rest of the women prisoners were made to stay overcrowded in 23 cells, the report indicates. Both Sasikala and Ilavarsi were allowed to wear their own clothes when actually other convicts had to wear white sarees. White curtains were used in all these five cells for privacy. In their defence, jail officials told Kumar that Sasikala had complained of cat menace, and to ward off cats, the curtains were used. The long corridor in front of the five cells were barricaded from both the sides and the two used them as their personal space. There was indeed a special kitchen where the duo was provided a fridge, induction stove (heater), pressure cooker and other utensils. Kumar during his inspection found turmeric strewn on the shelves which indicated they were indeed cooking inside one of the cells, his report stated. In the name of security for Sasikala, there were a few convicts who were employed as cooks and servants at her kitchen as well.

Long visitations for duo

While the visiting/interviewing time according to the jail manual is 45 minutes for a convict on a given day, Sasikala and Ilavarsi enjoyed visitations from their kith and kin for over four hours. CCTV footage has been submitted as evidence to prove the same. Violating the jail manuals, the jail officials maintained a separate register of visitations for Sasikala and Ilavarsi.

Not Class-A prisoners, but offered Class-A treatment in jail

Kumar states in his report that senior prison officials maintained that class-A facilities were offered to Sasikala and Ilavarsi after the then chief superintendent revealed a letter which stated as per the directions of the committal warrant issued by a court Sasikala was to be treated as a class-A prisoner. Since providing such facilities required government approval, the jail officials made arrangements for class-A facilities and then wrote to the DGP prisons about the same. The DGP referred the matter to a court which clarified no order was issued to grant class-A facilities to the convicts.

Despite this clarification from the court, preferential treatment mentioned above were not withdrawn and still continued for the two in the prison until mid July, a few days before Kumar started his probe, the report said. Kumar was assisted in the probe by S Ravi, additional commissioner of police (crime) and P V Ananda Reddy, chief superintendent of Mysuru central prison.

Jammers switched off

Though there was a jammer installed at one of the five cells given to Sasikala, it remained switched off, which indicated she could have had access to mobile phones or might have been using phones of her visitors.

(Published 20 January 2019, 19:35 IST)

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