An investigation into alleged irregularities at the Bengaluru prison housing former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader VK Sasikala found that as many as five cells were allotted to her and a relative, The Hindu reported on Saturday.
The daily claimed it had accessed the report, which had been submitted by the inquiry committee last year but had not been made public.
The inquiry, led by Indian Administrative Services officer Vinay Kumar, found “serious lapses” and “falsification of records” by senior prison officials who accorded special treatment to Sasikala. Sasikala is serving a four-year jail sentence in a corruption case and is lodged at Parappana Agrahara prison.
The findings showed that Sasikala was provided A-class facilities even though no such instructions had been provided. The report said there were 100 female prisoners and 28 barracks in the jail, which meant an average of three to four prisoners had to be kept in each cell.
“When five cells are taken away for two prisoners, the cramping of prisoners in the remaining 23 cells will be much more than the authorised level,” said the report.
The committee found evidence that cooking was allowed in some of the five cells. “In our visit on July 19, 2017, one of the members of our team passed his hand on the shelf and found unmistakable traces of turmeric powder,” the panel said.
Right to Information activist Narasimha Murthy said the four adjacent cells were emptied of other convicts after February 14, 2017, when Sasikala began her jail term, ANI reported. “There’s no provision for cooking food in prison but jail authorities deputed one convict to cook for Sasikala,” he alleged. “People used to come in groups, go to her room directly and stay for three to four hours. There was a violation of rules.”
The inquiry report said that A-class facilities for Sasikala were continued even when a sessions court ruled that no order allowing such amenities had been passed. Jail officials told the panel that the cooker was used to store food and not cook it, but the panel rejected this claim.
“There was no professional evaluation of the threat perception to justify the claim [of prison officials] that five cells and other facilities were provided on the grounds of security,” the report added. Sasikala and [her relative] J Ilavarsi were also allowed to wear personal clothes, News18 reported.
Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara deflected the blame on Sunday, asking mediapersons to question state Home Minister MB Patil about the allegations in the committee’s report. Both Parameshwara and Patil are Congress leaders. Parameshwara held the home ministry until last month.
Former Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) D Roopa had in July 2017 flagged the special treatment granted to Sasikala, and released pictures of a pressure cooker and vessels in her cell. Former Deputy General of Police Satyanarayana Rao had later demanded that Roopa apologise for her allegations or pay a fine of Rs 50 crore, after she accused him of having taken a bribe to allow the special facilities to Sasikala.
After the media reports about the inquiry findings, Roopa told Thanthi TV that her findings, which had not been accepted at that time, had now been vindicated.