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Convicted Politicians : VIP Inmates of Prisons

Posted by Admin on October 10, 2014 | Read the First Comment

Convicted PoliticiansWhat happens when the high-profile politicians find themselves on the wrong side of the law? As the law mandates, they are convicted and put behind the bars. But does it actually seem like a great leveler for the tainted MPs and ministers? Not really. Unlike the common man, the politicians’ journey from home to prison doesn’t look like an ordeal. Even inside the prison, nothing substantially changes for the VIP inmate in terms of material comforts and other amenities.

Politicians Who Have Been the Privileged Prisoners

The recent arrest of ex-Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa is a case in point. Convicted in the disproportionate assets case, Jayalalithaa occupied the VIP cell in Bangalore Central Jail. The prison also has five other VIP cells. Incidentally, these VIP prisons were once occupied by ex-Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa and other former ministers like G Janardhan Reddy and SN Krishnaiah Setty.

In Punjab, Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was convicted for the abduction for her daughter, received a royal treatment at the Kapurthala prison. Much to the common man’s surprise, a video footage revealed how prison officials rushed to greet her upon her arrival at the prison. Be it the 2G scam convict Kanimozhi or the perpetrators of Commonwealth Games scam, several media reports have been pointed to the VIP treatment meted out to the politicians.

In fact, some of the politicians have been ‘very demanding’ when it comes to spending their days in prison in the manner they want. Amar Singh had earned the distinction of being one of the most well looked after VIP prisoners in Tihar jail. Besides receiving home-cooked food and getting access to European toilet, obliging officials are believed to be helping prisoners hire even domestic helps. Despite being convicted in Fodder scam case, Lalu Prasad Yadav was reportedly having the time of his life in the Tihar prison.

Although there is a provision in Indian prison law to keep convicted criminal prisoners separate from the under-trial prisoners, but that never guarantees that the former lot should be entitled to such privileges as they demand and manage to avail.

The Prisons Act, 1894 and Model Prison Manual

According to the Prisons Act of Indian Constitution, no prison officer should derive benefit from selling any article to the prisoner or by allowing the use of it. Similarly, the officer should not have any interest “in any contract for the supply of the prison; nor shall he derive any benefit from the sale or purchase of any article on behalf of the prison or belonging to a prisoner.” The Act considers it a punishable offence if a prisoner receives, possesses or transfers any prohibited article.  Several cases were reported wherein the inmates were found using cell phones. It doesn’t have any legal sanction.

Although the administration of prisons comes under the domain of state governments, it is the Prisons Act that’s followed as a rule book. Each state has its Prison manuals with the state government having the authority to change prison laws, rules and regulations.

The Home Ministry had prepared the Model Prison Manual in 2003 based on the recommendations of the committee, which was established to review the laws governing the management of prisons and treatment of prisoners. The manual focuses on ensuring that the “basic minimum needs” of the prisoners are “compatible to the dignity of human life.” That doesn’t give political bigwigs the leeway to be ‘adamant’ about getting homely treatment when they are supposed to serve ‘rigorous’ imprisonment.

Who Are The VIP Prisoners?

The prisoners have the right to apply for ‘VIP Status’ based on their social standing and economic profile prior to their conviction. Generally, the status of VIP prisoner is accorded to former union cabinet minister, minister of state, member of Parliament (MP), member of state legislator, former Vidhan Sabha speakers/ deputy speakers, sitting MPs/MLAs and those authorised by the judicial magistrates. For the convicted politicians, getting this special status is the gateway to better living conditions.

The objective of having VIP cells across the prisons in India has always been to protect high-profile convicts from other inmates and to isolate them from the rest. The reason government spends on more security and better maintenance of these cells is not to show hospitality to the tainted public servants.