They live in 10X15 feet cells, away from their posh houses, bullet-proof beacon vehicles, and shorn of the halo of invincibility.
From J Jayalalithaa to Asaram and Subrata Roy to Rampal, people who we thought law couldn’t touch, have landed on the cold, hard floor of prisons across the country. These spiritual gurus, media barons, serving and former chief ministers, and top businesspersons spend their time like thousands of others languishing in our overcrowded jails, barring periodic outings on medical grounds.
Indian jails had 4,08,111 inmates in 2013. Tihar, the country’s most high-profile prison, houses more than 13,500 of them, a growing number being celebrity jailbirds.
Greater public scrutiny, an aggressive media, investigations supervised by the judiciary and strong, new tools like the Right to Information are some of the factors that have contributed to the rich and the powerful landing in jail in unprecedented numbers.
While jail is supposed to be a great leveller, fellow inmates often complain about preferential and even reverential treatment given by authorities to them.
An inmate who was released on bail from Tihar’s jail number 3 two months ago, said prison rules did not seem to apply to a certain businessman lodged there.