A preliminary inquiry report has absolved the Kapurthala jail officials of the charges of according preferential treatment to former Akali cabinet minister Bibi Jagir Kaur and three others, sentenced to five-year rigorous imprisonment in the Harpreet Kaur case.
Though inspector general (IG, prisons) Jagjit Singh has not yet submitted the final report to Punjab director general of police (DGP, prisons) Shashi Kant, his preliminary findings do not hold any Kapurthala jail official guilty of providing special treatment to Bibi, Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, Paramjit Singh Raipur and Nishan Singh in the prison.
Kant had ordered a probe on April 3 following complaints and allegations that Bibi was getting 'VIP facilities' in violation of the Punjab Jail Manual and other rules and regulations governing jail inmates.
Though Jagjit Singh, in his inquiry, has confirmed that Bibi had gone inside the Theh Kanjla jail in her own vehicle, he informed the DGP that it was done on the directions of Kapurthala jail superintendent SP Khanna.
Justifying the anomaly, the IG said in the preliminary report, "Bibi is under threat since the days of terrorism in Punjab. She continues to be on the hit list of anti-national elements. So, it was important for the jail officials to have her inside the jail premises in a safe and sound condition."
The IG also justified the meeting of a large section of Bibi's followers in her cell and not in the common meeting hall.
"It is again the discretion of the jail superintendent. If he (jail superintendent) is convinced that the persons can have interviews with the convict inside the cell, it is permitted as he draws this discretionary power from the Jail Manual. Since her (Bibi's) life was already under threat, it was safe to have so many people meet her in her cell," the report said.
On why Bibi was provided with a 32-inch LCD TV along with a direct-to-home (DTH) antenna in violation of rules - as reported in newspapers - the report said Khanna had procured the cash memo a well as other documents to show that the items were being taken inside the jail for an employee, not for the Akali MLA.
About the allegation of certain uniformed jail and police officials touching the feet of Bibi on the jail premises, the report confirmed the same. "The jail and police officials who did it have been identified and will be dealt with as per the law," the preliminary report said.
Talking to HT, DGP (prisons) Shashi Kant said, "There was no major violation by the jail administration, according to the IG (prisons), who conducted surprise checks on April 4 and April 8."
"He reported various aspects of the inquiry to me in my office on Monday. In a day or two, he will submit the final report," Kant said.