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Instal CCTV Cameras Inside Prison Superintendents’ Offices, Says Panel Looking into ‘VIP Treatment’ Charges in Tihar

A committee formed to look into allegations of “VIP treatment” inside Tihar jail has recommended framing standard operating procedures and installing CCTV cameras inside offices of prison superintendents and their deputies, officials said on Monday.

The panel, headed by the principal secretary (Home), was formed to look into alleged “VIP treatment” provided to jailed minister Satyendra Jain lodged in Tihar. Jain is in the prison for over six months in connection with a money laundering case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Several videos of Jain had surfaced purportedly showing him getting special facilities like a massage inside the jail. The ED had also produced the CCTV footage from Jain’s prison cell in the court.

The committee, in its report, cited various malpractices encountered by it inside the jail, including misuse of jail cards and inmates forced to serve influential prisoners, and suggested several remedial measures.

It suggested that the director general (prison) should put in place a standard operating procedure and may use biometric systems to end the misuse.

It was alleged that influential prisoners used jail cards to buy various items for themselves inside the jails.

The panel recommended setting up a standard operating procedure to stop “begaar” in which some inmates were forced to serve influential ones. It also identified “dark spots” not covered by the jail’s CCTV network.

“It is most likely that certain activities in violation of the prison rules may occur or can be planned in the offices of the jail superintendent and his subordinates,” the report said, suggesting installing CCTV cameras there.

It, however, suggested keeping offices of DG and AIG of prison out of CCTV camera coverage so as not to intrude into the privacy of the high-ranking officers beyond a point.

The committee also suggested setting up suitable IT infrastructure to help DG (Prisons) to access the relevant video feeds from other Delhi jail complexes outside Tihar from his office for effective supervision.

It recommended an effective legal system for inmates involved in non-serious offences, the appearance of undertrials in the courts through video conference, and surprise checks by district magistrates accompanied by police apart from such raids by the jail administration to prevent mobile phone smuggling inside prison complexes.

The committee recommended filling the gap between the demand and supply of phone needs of inmates trying to make genuine calls to their family members. If the genuine need of inmates to call their kin is not met it could lead to corruption and the smuggling of mobile phones, the report noted.

“An effective system has to be ensured so that the criminals are not able to use the jail complex for illegal activities or plotting crime from the prison itself. There are areas in prisons where jammers are not functional, DG (Prisons) may review it and address the issue,” said the report.

The committee also recommended plugging loopholes that were misused to provide entry to family members of some inmates and misuse of doctors’ advice to avail special facilities within the jail.

“The DG (Prisons) may review the entire system of medical facilities and suggest measures for an effective system for checks and balances.” It recommended proper segregation of inmates involved in serious and non-serious offences, and deal with browbeating of inmates by ‘Munshis’ or Sewadars to coerce other inmates to serve influential ones.

The committee also suggested the Delhi government look into legal reforms to address the problem of overcrowding in the jails.

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