An investigation into alleged irregularities at the Bengaluru Central Prison has found that drug abuse and use of mobile phones was rampant there.
The inquiry, led by Indian Administrative Services officer Vinay Kumar, found several lapses in the overall prison conditions and had submitted its recommendations to the Karnataka government last year. The panel’s report, which was made public on Saturday, had also found that as many as five cells at the prison were allotted to former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader VK Sasikala and a relative.
The report, accessed by Scroll, said that the incidence of drug abuse appears to be high at the prison. “At least 18 out of 25 prisoners, who were given urine test, have tested positive for drug dependence,” the report said. “The then chief superintendent himself said that nearly 80% of the prisoners are addicted to ganja.” The panel added that very little action had been taken to measure and contain the magnitude of this problem.
The report also said that mobile phones had become a major technological problem for prison management. The committee observed that at the time of their last visit, on August 8, 2017, all the 19 jammers around the prison complex had not been functioning for almost a year. They recommended that existing jammers need to be made operational and used in conjunction with “effective physical checking to prevent the use of mobile phones by prisoners”.
The inquiry panel found that the prison was overpopulated by 44% at that time. “As of now, it has 4,367 prisoners as against authorised capacity of 3,016,” the report said.
The panel also said that the staff deficit was highest among warders. “But, it [the prison] is managed by staff strength that is just 46% of the sanctioned strength. With nearly 61% vacancy in the level of warders, the prison management has tended to use the service of convicts themselves.”
Special facilities for Sasikala
VK Sasikala is serving a four-year jail sentence in a corruption case and is lodged at Parappana Agrahara prison. The Vinay Kumar committee’s findings had showed that Sasikala was provided A-class facilities even though no instructions regarding such provisions had been given. The panel had 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.