Mini fridge, imported chocolates, perfumes: Tihar jail probes ‘special delivery’ for Unitech owners
The Chandra brothers, owner-directors of Unitech, have been in prison since April last year for allegedly duping over 500 home buyers in a proposed housing project in Gurgaon.delhi Updated: May 25, 2018 07:32 IST
Six cellphones, bottles of perfume, imported chocolates, 73 packets of ready-to-eat food and biscuits -- these were some of the items recovered from an SUV at t he jail number 1 parking lot within the Tihar jail compound.
On Wednesday evening, when a senior jail officer found the items inside a Toyota Innova and questioned the driver’s identity, the man said his name was Vikrant Mahant. Questioning revealed he was an employee of Ajay and Sanjay Chandra, owner-directors of the real estate firm Unitech Ltd.
The Chandra brothers have been in prison since April last year for allegedly duping over 500 home buyers in a proposed housing project in Gurgaon.
Prison officers had another surprise waiting for them. When they went to inspect a room inside the jail where two brothers have been allowed by the Supreme Court to negotiate the sale of properties to pay off investors, they found more perfume bottles, chocolate boxes, one mini refrigerator, two cell phones, two cordless phones and two desktop computers.
Tihar’s director general Ajay Kashyap has ordered an inquiry to find out how the items came to be in the high-security jail. In October last year, the Supreme Court had allowed the Chandras to use video conferencing facilities from a makeshift office inside the prison to arrange a R750 crore deposit for grant of bail.
Jail officers said the recovery of imported chocolates, perfume bottles, and the mini refrigerator came as a surprise, because the apex court had only permitted the use of cell phones, computers, and tablets with an internet facility.
A Tihar jail spokesperson confirmed the recovery of the items.
“An inquiry committee, constituted to look into allegations of misuse of facilities by prisoners, intercepted a cherry colour Innova car in the parking area outside jail 1 at around 6.05pm. They first recovered the six phones and other items from the car. More items were found in the makeshift office. Our team also checked the cell where the two brothers are lodged but no prohibited items was found,” a Tihar jail spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that the inquiry would look into the role of jail officials. “There is no way the car driver would have managed to sneak the items found in the car inside the prison. The driver would have to go through a body search before entering the gate of jail number 1. In prison, we do not allow any inmate to misuse the facility, which is why the items have been detected by the jail officers. We will match the items recovered from the office with those of the facilities allowed by the court,” the spokesperson said.
Advocate Vishal Gosain, counsel for the Chandras, denied that the items in the car belonged to his clients. “We have nothing to do with the cell phones found in the car. It must be that of the employees (of the clients). The employees are there to ferry clients from the jail’s main gate to jail number 1 so they must have kept the biscuits and food packets. It is natural. We do not know about the chocolates and the perfume. Maybe they were using it.”
About the items recovered from the makeshift office, Gosain said. “The phones and computers have been allowed by the court. We deny the presence of chocolate boxes, or perfume bottles, or the mini refrigerator in the office. The refrigerator has nothing to do with my clients; it may have been there from before. This is a ploy by some jail officers. Earlier last month, our clients had filed a complaint against one head warder who was demanding money. That head warder has been transferred and is planting fake stories. There was a fake news report about my client and their wives partying inside prison. The truth is the two women were out of the country (at the time).”
Gosain denied allegations that his clients were violating any jail rules. The two brothers have arranged close to R80 crore and have also put up 600 acres of land for auction to raise the money, he said.