The Supreme Court on Thursday said reports of Unitech managing director Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay living a luxurious life in Delhi’s Tihar prison seemed to show there is a “parallel system running in jails”.
Sanjay and Ajay were put in Tihar after the Delhi Police arrested them in March 2017 for allegedly duping homebuyers in a Gurugram project.
An additional sessions judge inspected Tihar on September 4 after prisoners wrote a letter to the Delhi High Court alleging the Chandras and others arrested for financial crimes were "enjoying an extra luxurious life " with a "separate VIP ward".
"Report of a judge says that Unitech officials are enjoying facilities in Tihar. Is there a parallel system running in jails? Do they have special rights in jails? What have you done about it?," a Supreme Court bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer, and Deepak Gupta asked the central government’s lawyer.
"These persons are enjoying TV. God knows what all they are enjoying. They are sitting on sofas," the court observed.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, who represented the central government, said such instances have to be "tackled seriously".
"What is your government planning to do?" the bench asked Lekhi, who said he would get back to the court.
The additional sessions judge has said in his report the Chandras had a separate "office" that had a computer with internet, a printer, eatables and mineral water. The brothers had household amenities like mattresses, mustard oil, foot-mats, and stools in their prison cell.
The judge’s report to the Delhi High Court said the circumstances in Tihar indicated "corruption" and "grave misuse of power" on the part of Director General (DG) Prisons and Tihar officials.
He recommended that an FIR be lodged against DG Prisons and Tihar officials as giving prisoners such amenities pose an "extra burden on the public exchequer".
The high court has taken suo motu cognisance of the report and the letter written by the inmates and turned it into a public interest litigation.
A division bench of the high court issued notices to the Delhi government, DG Prisons, and Tihar senior officials seeking their response in the matter by February 1 next year.