Charge sheet reveals shocking collusion of Rohini jail officers and conman
From receiving more than ₹50 lakh every fortnight in bribe, to blocking view of CCTV cameras by placing bottles, curtains and towels -- the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police has made some shocking revelations on how the Rohini Jail officers helped alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar in running a cheating and extortion racket from inside the prison.
This comes days after the Supreme Court expressed displeasure at the “sorry state of affairs” in city’s Tihar jail where at least 32 prison officers have been named in an investigation by Delhi Police commissioner Rakesh Asthana into how they helped former Unitech promoters, the Chandra brothers, to operate a “secret underground office in south Delhi” and break other prison rules.
In a charge sheet filed before a city court earlier this month, the EOW has said that the alleged con freely used mobile phones and other prohibited items in collusion with the jail officers. HT has seen the charge sheet.
The Delhi Police on November 9 said that five senior jail officers --- superintendents Sunil Kumar and Surinder Chandra, deputy superintendents Mahendra Prasad and Laxmi Dutt and assistant superintendent Prakash Chand -- were arrested for allegedly helping Sukesh in duping Aditi Singh, wife of former Religare promoter Shivinder Singh to the tune of crores of rupees. Earlier, on August 17, the police arrested deputy superintendent Dharam Singh Meena and assistant superintendent Subash Batra in the case.
According to the EOW charge sheet, deputy jail superintendent DS Meena used to collect ₹60-75 lakh fortnightly from co-accused Deepak and Pradeep Ramnani which was distributed among the jail officials to provide safety and facilities for Sukesh to continue his extortion racket.
Meena, in his confessional statement given to the police, said while ₹50 lakh would be given to the officers above the rank of assistant superintendent (AS) fortnightly, ₹10 lakh was given to those below the ranks of AS.
The EOW said that Sukesh was given an entire barrack to stay, and that he spent long hours in the chamber of the jail superintendent where opaque curtains were hung in order to prevent the CCTVs from recording his activities.
The charge sheet was filed before additional sessions judge Praveen Singh. It names 14 people, including Sukehs and his wife, Leena Maria Paul.
According to Aditi’s complaint, she received a call in June last year from a man posing as a senior official of the law ministry who offered to help her secure bail for her husband, who was in jail at that time, in return for money.
The sessions court took cognizance of the charge sheet on November 2, and will hear the case on December 1.
The charge sheet said that some documents recovered from Meena’s phone has the details of which jail official was given what share of the bribe money.
According to the charge sheet, Batra said that he was involved in helping and facilitating Sukesh in his criminal activities. He disclosed that Meena used to collect ₹60-75 lakh fortnightly from a person on the conman’s instructions, the charge sheet said.
“Out of the money collected by DS Meena, Batra used to get ₹3 lakh as his share from each transaction. The remaining amount was distributed among the other staff of Jail No.10. This amount was given by UTP/inmate Sukesh Chandrashekar for providing facility in his cell No 204,” the document said.
The charge sheet also details the testimony of Neeraj Mann, jail warder of Rohini Jail, in which the officer said that he noticed water bottles and curtains were blocking the view of the CCTV camera at barrack 204. The document, qutoing Mann, said that when he informed deputy superintendent Subhash Batra about it, the latter not take any action.
He also informed the new jail superintendent Sunder Bora several times, but no action was taken, the charge sheet said. When he started writing notes regarding the blocking of view of the CCTV cameras of barrack no, 204, ward no. 3, in the CCTV camera register, Batra instructed him not to make those entries in the register, the document said.
The agency said that investigation so far has revealed that Meena has unaccounted fixed deposits, and has purchased a flat worth ₹1.25 crore from the proceeds of the crime. It also said that Batra had documents of a plot which he purchased with the money received from Sukesh.
Sandeep Goel, director general (DG, Prisons) said “The errant officers have been arrested, and they are already in judicial custody. Departmental action will also be taken against these officials. We will ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future. We have taken several steps to put in mobile phone jammers, install CCTVs etc and the work is ongoing. With better technical gadgets and further surveillance on staff, these things would definitely be checked.”
Former jail superintendent Sunil Gupta told HT that there was an “inherent problem” in the jails in Delhi. He said that the jail administration lacks young and professional officers who have the will to run the show without any corruption.
“The jail (staff) is lacking in young blood and it requires honest professional officers who can run the administration. There lies an inherent, core issue of recruitment of officers in the jail, which has most of the officers on punishment postings. This is the reason that they do not discharge their responsibilities properly,” he said.
On November 10, the apex court had taken note of the prevalent corruption and security lapses at the Tihar jail. It had called for a report from the Union home secretary in three weeks providing an action plan to fill the gaps pointed out by the Delhi Police commissioner in his report that the court had forwarded to the Centre last month.
The directions by the top court came in a pending proceeding related to completion of the Unitech housing projects since the arrest of former Unitech promoters Sanjay and Ajay Chandra facing probe by the Delhi Police, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) for cheating homebuyers and laundering their money to offshore shell companies.
On October 6, the court directed the two brothers to be removed from Tihar Jail and be lodged at separate jails in Mumbai, after the ED disclosed that Tihar officials were complicit in allowing the accused to launder money, influence witnesses and tamper with the probe.
The accused, Ashu, a resident of Panipat’s Nara village, killed the victims, reportedly his friends, between 8pm and 4am and travelled around 60km from the first crime scene in Matlauda of Panipat to Titawi in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli. The victims are Sonu, 26, who was working with a private contractor in a cement factory, and his two friends -- Monu, 25, of Nara village and Rakesh, 27, of Bhalsi village.
The Delhi government introduced the Happiness curriculum in 2018, Entrepreneurship mindset curriculum in 2019 and the Deshbhakti curriculum last year with the aim of inculcating problem-solving approaches among students and making them more self-aware, self-confident and socially responsible.
While the LG appreciated the work done at Indraprastha and Pul Prahladpur, he was displeased at the drainage system at Minto Bridge, flagging “technical flaws” in the drainage system and warned that engineers concerned “will be held responsible and strict action will be taken in the event of waterlogging at the site.”
BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said the MLAs were informed about the election process for upcoming election for Speaker’s post. “They were told that the election will be held through a voice vote or they may have to stand up to vote for their candidate if asked,” said Mungantiwar.
The weather department classifies rainfall between ‘trace’ and 2.4 mm as ‘very light rainfall’, as ‘light rainfall’ when it is between 2.5 mm and 15.5 mm, as ‘moderate’ rainfall when it is between 15.6 mm and 64.4 mm and as ‘heavy’ when it is over 64.5 mm in a single day.