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Sasikala was allowed 23 visits, instead of 8, during four months in prison: RTI

This is in violation of prison rules, which clearly stipulate that a convict is allowed just one visit in a fortnight. Ideally, Sasikala should have benefited from just eight visits from February 16 to June 15.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 20:43 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Sasikala,AIADMK,Bengaluru Central Prison
Sasikala and two of her relatives – Elavarasi and Sudhakaran – were imprisoned on the orders of the Supreme Court in a disproportionate assets case earlier this year.(PTI File)

Even as a controversy over undue privileges accorded to AIADMK leader VK Sasikala at the Bengaluru Central Prison continues to rage on, a Right to Information (RTI) response has revealed that she was allowed a whopping 23 visits from February 16 – the date of her incarceration – to June 16.

She met as many as 48 visitors during these visits.

This is in violation of prison rules, which clearly stipulate that a convict is allowed just one visit in a fortnight. Ideally, Sasikala should have benefited from just eight visits till June 15.

Sasikala and two of her relatives – Elavarasi and Sudhakaran – were imprisoned on the orders of the Supreme Court in a disproportionate assets case earlier this year.

The prison department’s response, a copy of which is with HT, revealed that even Elavarasi was allowed 10 visits during this period. The three met as many as 82 people in just four months.

Speaking to HT, RTI activist T Narasimha Murthy said allowing Sasikala and her relatives additional visits amounts to gross violation of rules. “It is a known fact that poor inmates in the jail are not extended such privileges,” he added.

Former deputy inspector general of police (prisons) Roopa D Moudgil had highlighted alleged violations at the Bengaluru prison on July 12. In a report, she said there were accusations that Sasikala had paid a bribe of Rs 2 crore to senior police officers – including then director general of police (prisons) HN Sathyanarayana Rao. Subsequently, the state instituted a probe headed by retired Indian Administrative Services officer Vinay Kumar.

Meanwhile, both Moudgil and Rao were transferred “to ensure a fair investigation”.

After visiting the jail, Kumar told reporters on Wednesday that he would not be able to comment on the terms of the inquiry and the timeline for submitting the report. “The home department may inform the public once it is submitted,” he said.

Murali Karnam, a researcher who has studied the condition of jails across India, said inequality in prison is just a reflection of the inequality that exists outside. “Special privileges are sometimes accorded to wealthier prisoners by default, even without the payment of a bribe,” he added.

Former director general of police (prisons) ST Ramesh said any information about Sasikala being allowed the alleged privileges was likely to influence public opinion. “Even assuming that no bribe was paid, it would have been ideal if the prison department was more open. It should have informed the public about the pressures faced by them while handling a high-profile prisoner,” he added.

First Published: Jul 19, 2017 20:43 IST