BENGALURU: In a damning revelation, former Director General of Police (Prisons) H N Sathyanarayana Rao has told an inquiry committee that a cot, mattress and pillow were provided to jailed Tamil Nadu V K Sasikala, on the instructions of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Sasikala is housed in Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara Central Prison after she was convicted in the disproportionate assets case. The then DIG (Prisons) D Roopa, who blew the lid on the alleged special privileges provided to Sasikala, had initially submitted a report stating that there was talk about `2 crore changing hands to provide special treatment to Sasikala in prison. The government constituted an expert panel, headed by IAS officer Vijay Kumar, to look into the allegations.
Rao, in his statement to the committee dated July 25, 2017, which is available with TNIE, stated that when Sasikala surrendered before the special court and was sent to the central prison, her counsel requested that Class-I facility is given to her. The court asked the prison authorities to consider the request in the light of the provisions of the prison manual. “The jail chief superintendent contacted me over phone and sought my advice. I advised him that such facilities cannot be given as per Order No.459 of the Karnataka Prison Manual. I also issued a memo to that effect,” Rao stated. Hence, no extra facility was given to her. She was lodged in a single cell on the first floor of the women’s enclosure.
“After some time, she submitted one more representation seeking Class-I facility. The jail chief superintendent forwarded the said representation to me. I forwarded it to the government wherein it was specifically stated that Class-I facility cannot be given to Sasikala as per Order No.459 of the Karnataka Prison Manual,” he stated. The order states that prisoners will be eligible for Class-I facility if they are not convicted of offences involving elements of cruelty, moral degradation or personal greed. “On this ground alone, I had not recommended the facility. However, there was no response from the Home Department on the issue,” he stated.
But after a month’s time, “the Chief Minister of Karnataka called me to the KPCL guest house through his PA Venkatesh, and asked me as to what kind of facility is given to Sasikala. I replied that she is not being given any special facility and being treated like any other woman prisoner. The Hon’ble CM instructed me to provide a cot, bed and a pillow, which I complied with. The government has power in this regard. But I also made it clear that nothing else can be provided and it was agreed upon,” Rao stated.He further stated that though Sasikala and Ilavarasi were allotted a cell on the first floor, the adjacent cells were not allotted to anybody and that the entire wing was cordoned off for security reasons.
Rao moves Karnataka High Court
Former DGP (Prisons) H N Sathyanarayana Rao has moved the High Court challenging the government order dated February 26, 2018 wherein the Anti- Corruption Bureau was directed to register a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act with regard to the allegations that there was talk about `2 crore changing hands to provide special treatment to Sasikala in prison. During the hearing, counsel Puthige Ramesh read out Rao’s statement submitted before the enquiry committee. He said the government did not provide a copy of the report submitted by the enquiry committee.
“I pray the court to direct the ACB to not to precipitate the matter as the investigating agency is likely to arrest the petitioner (Rao)”, he requested. He argued the case was registered under Section 13 (1 & C) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. However, Section 13(2) is not applicable in this case, he said. Justice Vineet Kothari asked Rao’s counsel to furnish copies of the report submitted by the enquiry committee and FIR registered by the ACB against the former DGP and adjourned the hearing to next week. Rao contended that the then DIG (Prisons) D Roopa did not provide any evidence before the committee in support of her allegations. Therefore, the government ought to have closed the case instead of directing the ACB to register a case.