Former Unitech bosses had several run-ins with law during their stay in Tihar

Updated on Aug 27, 2021 03:38 AM IST

They were arrested in 2017 for duping over 500 homebuyers, in 74 Unitech projects, and were lodged in a cell inside jail number 7.

File photo of Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)
File photo of Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Former Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra --- who were ordered to be shifted separately to Arthur Road jail and Taloja central jail in Maharashtra -- have had a controversial stint inside Delhi’s Tihar jail, the country’s largest prison.

They were arrested in 2017 for duping over 500 homebuyers, in 74 Unitech projects, and were lodged in a cell inside jail number 7. During their time inside Tihar, there were at least four cases, in which the they used their influence to circumvent rules inside the prison.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Chandra brothers to be immediately shifted out from Delhi’s Tihar Jail after the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) claimed that the accused in collusion with jail authorities were using the jail precincts to engage in illegal activities, share proceeds of crime and influence witnesses with a view to derail the investigation against them.

On August 16, ED wrote to Delhi Police Commissioner seeking an inquiry into the alleged collusion of Tihar jail authorities with the Chandra brothers. Wondering why the Commissioner of Police waited for 10 days to take action on such a serious issue, the Court directed the Delhi Police chief to personally take up the investigation to begin forthwith and submit a report in four weeks on the “complicity of all officers (of Tihar Jail) who acted in violation of law” as detailed in the ED letter.

In May 2019, Tihar jail authorities, on the directions of the Supreme Court, withdrew facilities such as telephones, an air cooler and a desktop computer, that the two men had got to conduct their business and recover money to pay back the investors.

On May 23, 2018, during an inspection jail officers found a mini fridge, imported chocolates, perfume bottles and at least six cell phones in their jail cell. At least two jail warders were suspended for helping the two men get access to the items that are not allowed to the prisoners.

Also on May 18, two prison warders were suspended for allowing the Chandra brothers to meet their wives inside an office in jail 1, and also allowed them to bring in home-cooked meal. The two prison warders were suspended only after a third warder filed a complaint and informed the Tihar control room. Under prison rules, allowing their wives inside the office and bring food from outside are barred under the rules.

A month later, on July 31, the then station house office of the Hauz Khas police station, inspector Neeraj Tyagi was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation for taking bribe from the two businessmen to settle at least 47 cases filed against Unitech at the Saket police station.

In November 2018, when a city judge visited the prison premises for a surprise inspection, he noted that the Unitech promoters were living “an extra luxurious life” and had access to their special brand of mineral water, one that was not sold in the jail’s canteen.

A mid-level prison officer, who asked not to be named, said on Thursday that Sanjay and Ajay Chandra must have heavily bribed prison guards who helped them run their alleged racket inside the prison cell.

“At least in official prison records, they have not been caught for violating any rule in the last one year. They are clean as per the jail records but how is it possible? It is apparent that some officers were helping them and covering their crimes. The inquiry by the police will unearth the role of the jail guards. An independent inquiry will expose the corruption inside the jail,” one prison officer, who asked not to be named said.

Siddhartha Dave, the counsel for the Chandra brothers, did not comment on the previous cases.

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