The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the AAP government and the prison authorities here to ensure that convicts and undertrials are provided only those items in jail which are permissible under the rules and "nothing extra". The direction by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar came while disposing of a PIL initiated by the court on the basis of an Additional Sessions Judge's (ASJ) report stating that an LED TV, coconut water, crates of mineral water, badminton rackets and household items were some of the prohibited things found in the prison cell of Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra, lodged in Tihar jail for allegedly cheating home buyers.
The court disposed of the PIL after the prison authorities, represented by Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, told the bench that none of the items in the ASJ's report were provided specially to the Chandras as such things were available to all the inmates.
Mehra said there are 1,215 LED TVs in Tihar Jail with one in almost every cell and these are provided in accordance with the Delhi Prison Rules. He also told the court that items like coconut water and packaged mineral water are available for purchase at the jail canteen by using the smart cards given to inmates for this purpose.
He said that each inmate can purchase such items for up to Rs 6,500 each month from the jail canteen. Regarding the video-conferencing and internet facilities provided to the Chandras, Mehra said it was done on the orders of the Supreme Court to help them to interact with prospective buyers so that they can pay off their liabilities to investors and home buyers. He said the facilities were later ordered to be taken away by the apex court and it was done.
Taking note of the submission made on behalf of the prison authorities, the bench said, "Since the items mentioned in the report are prime facie found to be in accordance with the law, rules, regulations and government policy, we see no reason to further monitor the matter. The writ petition is disposed of."
The court, however, made it clear that "only items permissible under the Delhi Prison Rules are provided to inmates and nothing extra". The ASJ in his report had said the circumstances indicated "corruption" and "grave misuse of power" on the part of the prison officials.
He had recommended that an FIR be registered against the prison officials as such activities also pose an "extra burden on the public exchequer".
The ASJ had said that apart from household amenities, including mattresses, mustard oil, foot-mats and stools, in their cell, the brothers also enjoyed a separate "office" room having a computer with internet, a printer as well as eatables and Aquafina mineral water.
He had carried out an inspection after receiving a letter from some 25 inmates claiming that while those arrested for financial crimes, like the Chandra brothers, were "enjoying an extra luxurious life in Tihar jail" with a "separate VIP ward" for them, other prisoners were allegedly not getting sufficient food, drinking water, fruits and other necessities, including medical treatment.
ALSO READ | BLR airport's second runway commences operations