Karnataka Govt Orders Anti-corruption Bureau to Probe Alleged VIP Treatment Given to Sasikala in Jail
Just two days before Sasikala went into prison, she made an unsuccessful bid to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Before things could be sorted out, the Supreme Court's order upheld her conviction and she was no longer eligible for the post.
File image of VK Sasikala.
Bengaluru: The Karnataka government has ordered the anti-corruption bureau to probe the three senior officers of Parappana Agrahara jail, including a DG-rank retired officer, regarding their alleged role in doling out VIP treatment to VK Sasikala, the aide of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Former DGP (Prisons) H Satyanarayan Rao will be probed for possible offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Ironically, Sasikala -- who has been in jail for a year now -- is also serving time after being convicted under the same Act and for possessing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. She still has another three years of prison term left.
In July last year, barely six months after Sasikala entered the Bengaluru Central Jail to serve her term, DIG of the Prisons Department D Roopa brought to light the irregularities in the prison when it comes to treatment of the VIPs.
Roopa had alleged, in a two-part report that she submitted to her seniors, that Sasikala was allowed a bigger accommodation (nearly three rooms next to each other were set aside for her), a television to her room, a pressure cooker and other basics in her barrack, and food was specially cooked for her. There were other facilities like being allowed to wear her own clothes and not prison uniform, freely access a specially-set-up meeting room where she could meet people (instead of the common visitors' gallery), and that there was leniency in the number of times she got to meet visitors. In other words, she was getting 'VIP' facilities in prison.
Sasikala is in prison since Feb 2017, along with her niece Ilavarasi and nephew VN Sudhakaran -- who are co-accused in the case. Jayalalithaa too had been convicted in the same case earlier but had passed away before the final appeals were disposed of in the Supreme Court.
Just two days before Sasikala went into prison, she made an unsuccessful bid to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu; she had been appointed General Secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) about a month before that, but faced rebellion within her party cadre which put out her chief ministerial ambitions. Before things could be sorted out, the Supreme Court's order upheld her conviction and she was no longer eligible for the post.
Rao, who was accused of allowing her 'VIP' facilities by his subordinate Roopa, was shunted out of office when the allegations first surfaced. He was transferred without posting till the date of his retirement, while Roopa too was transferred to a different department to enable a fair inquiry. An inquiry was conducted by a retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar, who submitted his report to the government about irregularities and solutions to the government, following which Rao now faces an ACB probe.
Roopa is not spared in the follow-up action either. The government's order is two-pronged: one, it recommends a probe by the anti-corruption bureau into allegations that bribes of Rs 2 crore were paid to enable Sasikala's VIP treatment; second, it also asks the Department of Personnel to inquire whether there was any violation of conduct rules of the All India Services either by Roopa or Rao. This comes amid allegations that Roopa violated service rules by leaking her report to the media, instead of taking it up with her superiors.
The government has, further, begun a preliminary inquiry by the current Additional Director General (ADGP) (Prisons) into the conduct of two other prison officials -- the then Superintendent Anitha and her Chief Superintendent Krishna Kumar -- who were allegedly complicit in allowing the VIP facilities for Sasikala. If needed, there could be a probe by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) too into this.
One of the major concerns in the Bengaluru Central Jail was about dysfunctional CCTVs and tampered footage, compromised electronic gadgets like jammers -- these are to now be handed over to an external agency for annual maintenance contracts to ensure they are fully functional, not just in Bengaluru but all jails across the State.
The government has also asked the ADG (Prisons) N S Megharikh to put together a revised prisons manual within three months in tune with the recommendations of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
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