Did Sasikala pay Rs2 crore for VIP treatment in jail?
Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday ordered an inquiry into allegations of widespread corruption and mismanagement at the Parappana Agrahara jail housing V.K. Sasikala, general secretary of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Amma), or AIADMK (Amma).
In a report on Wednesday, D. Roopa, DIG of prisons had stated that during her visit to the jail on 10 July, she found that Sasikala was provided with a separate kitchen. Other serious irregularities she noted include drug abuse, unregulated movement of prisoners, threatening and assault of medical staff by prisoners for favourable reports. In her report, Roopa said she had heard Sasikala had paid a bribe of Rs2 crore for preferential treatment in violation of prison rules and that there should be an investigation into these allegations.
The government is trying to contain damage from the report that could help the opposition. Legal experts say there could be a possibility of action against Sasikala, if the charges were proved.
A senior legal counsel, requesting anonymity, said under Section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, whoever abets any offence is punishable (under Sections 7 and 11) with imprisonment for a term not less than six months but which may extend to five years and also be liable to pay a fine.
“We have taken serious cognizance of the allegation of irregularities in Bengaluru Central Prison and ordered a high-level inquiry. Request all to await the outcome of this inquiry. Strict action will be taken against any person found guilty of wrongdoing,” Siddaramaiah tweeted on Thursday.
A senior official at the prisons department, requesting not to be named, said the report contained “baseless allegations”.
“If there are refutations to the report I submitted, let there be a fact-finding inquiry,” Roopa said in Bengaluru on Thursday.
Allegations of preferential treatment are not new for Sasikala. Sasikala met 28 visitors in 31 days (during 16 February-March 18) though rules state convicts are eligible for interviews with friends, family or advocates only once in 15 days, The Times of India reported on 6 April.
Jail officials at Parappana Agrahara have previously faced charges of supplying contraband and providing televisions, apart from forcing women convicts to have sex.
Siddaramaiah has held additional charge of the home ministry after G. Parameshwara was reappointed Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president in June resigned to focus on next year’s elections.
The Supreme Court (SC) in February upheld a Bengaluru trial court order which convicted Sasikala and two others for owning disproportionate assets in a 21-year-old case. She had surrendered before the law authorities to serve the remaining of her four-year jail term.
The verdict had thwarted the political ambitions of Sasikala, a close confidante of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa and spoiled her attempt to maintain her stranglehold on the party and its government
The report also states that fake stamp paper kingpin Abdul Karim Telgi has other inmates at his disposal. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (secular) have spared no opportunity to corner the Siddaramaiah-led government ahead of next year’s elections. The BJP in particular has held Siddaramaiah responsible for the recent murders of those associated with saffron outfits in recent months in coastal districts of Karnataka and the resulting communal clashes seen in the region.