The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over the “sorry state of affairs” in Tihar Jail. The top court was hearing a case regarding the alleged collusion between Chandra brothers, the jailed Unitech promoters, and Tihar jail officials.
“Immediate steps need to be taken on the report filed by Delhi Police Chief on prison management,” it said. The Supreme Court had last month ordered the suspension of officials at Tihar jail for colluding with the Chandra brothers and allowing them to run their business from within prison in violation of all rules.
The judges also said that they have read media reports of incidents of violence in the jail, including murders. “This is unacceptable,” they said. Stressing the need for urgent reforms, the court directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Secretary to take necessary steps for reforms. The court had last month asked the MHA to place an action plan before it. “Neither has any action plan been placed before us nor any info on the steps that have been taken. We do not find this acceptable,” it said.
While directing the MHA Secretary to file an affidavit within three weeks indicating the steps taken in the matter, the court added that arrangements should be made for body scanners, mobile jammers, and other security measures in jails. The matter was before a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah.
Sanjay Chandra and his older brother, Ajay Chandra, are the former owners of Unitech, which was a real estate giant for several years. The brothers were arrested in 2017 for failing to build houses for which they had collected hundreds of crores of rupees. They also face charges of money laundering and other financial crimes. On October 1, Sanjay Chandra’s wife, Preeti, was arrested along with his father, Ramesh Chandra, who is 80.
On August 29, Sanjay and Ajay Chandra were moved from Delhi’s Tihar Jail to separate prisons in Mumbai. On August 26, the Enforcement Directorate had told the court that the Chandras had created an “underground” or “secret” office where they stashed information relevant to the investigation against them. The Court had then ordered that they should be shifted.
On October 6, the Supreme Court had asked the Delhi Police to register an FIR on the nexus between the Chandra brothers and Tihar officials and had directed the MHA to respond to the suggestions contained in the report by Delhi’s top cop so that necessary steps could be taken for enhanced prison management and remedial action. It had asked the MHA to place an action plan before the Court in 4 weeks.
In 2017, the government was allowed to take over the management control of Unitech, a rare intervention which the government said would help those who had paid the company for homes that were never delivered to them.