Bholath MLA and former minister Bibi Jagir Kaur was released on four weeks' parole by the district magistrate here on Wednesday. She was lodged in the Kapurthala Modern Jail serving a five-year sentence after being convicted on the charges of forcibly aborting the child of her daughter Harpreet Kaur. Harpreet had died soon after.
Jail superintendent SP Khanna confirmed the release: "It is a matter of right for every prisoner. After four months' stay in prison, with good conduct, an inmate can be released on parole for four weeks." "She was transferred here on the night of March 30, 2012, and her case was sent for approval 8-10 days ago. She will be back in the prison on September 4," he added, denying any favours: "She got parole under the provisions of law and upon her turn. No queue was jumped."
District magistrate Alaknanda Dayal told HT: "I ordered the release after getting a communiqué from the inspector general (prisons), who granted parole after getting the recommendation from Kapurthala prison authorities. I don't think any favour was granted."
Since the day she was sent to jail, there have been reports of special favours and treatment to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader. In fact, the day she arrived in jail, staff were seen touching her feet. Besides these, allowing entry of vehicles into jail premises without keeping record, use of cellphone by Bibi, installation of satellite TV connection, allowing too many visitors, to virtually converting the jail into Bibi's dera, the allegations and reports have been aplenty.
Reacting to the media reports, the since-retired DGP (prisons), Shashi Kant marked an inquiry to IG (prisons) Jagjit Singh, who gave the clean chit to the jail staff. Later, in a religious function held inside the prison, a siropa (robe of honour) was bestowed upon IG Jagjit and jail superintendent Khanna by Bibi.
Congress leader Sukhpal Khaira said: "She is being treated like the government's guest. The jail is like a special house for her where she has been provided with a separate room, near the office of the superintendent, to meet visitors. How can these officials comment on Bibi's conduct and behaviour as a prisoner?"
Legal experts have also raised eyebrows over the grant of parole to a prisoner whose bail application is pending before the high court. "It is the misuse of judicial powers vested with the administrators," said renowned lawyer Navtej Singh Toor. "What was the need of granting parole to her when she was sure that her application for suspension of punishment was going to accepted due to her good conduct?" questioned lawyer Mandeep Sachdeva.