The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought permission from the government to record a video of Barrack number 12 at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail to submit it before London’s Westminster court, which is hearing the extradition plea of liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
Sources said the Home Ministry will soon direct the Maharashtra government to allow the central agency to film the video in line with the directives of the UK court.
Contesting his extradition, Mallya, during the last hearing, had claimed there was “no natural light” or fresh air in Arthur Road jail following which Judge Emma Arbuthnot had asked for a “step by step video” of Barrack 12 for “the avoidance of doubt” over the availability of natural light and ventilation in the cell, where Mallya would be lodged during pre-trial and also in the event of his conviction.
“The court has given three-weeks time to record and submit the video. After receiving the court’s order, permission has been sought from the Home Department to film the video and also direct the Maharashtra government to allow the video to be filmed,” a senior official told The Indian Express.
The request is yet to reach the Maharashtra government. “We are yet to receive a formal intimation, once it is received the video will be shot in accordance with the directives of the court. This will include showing the layout of the cell to show the size of the barrack, how it has access to both natural sunlight and ventilation, the various other facilities like toilet, washing area, bedding arrangements and courtyard where the prisoner could step out to take in some sunlight,” said a senior official from the state Prisons Department.
Barrack 12 at Arthur Road jail houses high-profile prisoners or prisoners against whom there is a threat perception or who could pose a threat to others or cause law and order breakouts. It’s a ground plus one structure with eight cells on each floor. Officials said the cells are well-lit.
“The cells have criss-cross ventilation with a window and bars on opposite sides. The cells open to a courtyard. The cells have attached toilet and washing area. While ordinarily, Indian barracks have Indian loo, some of the cells in Barrack 12 have western commode. The inmates are provided bedding, which includes a mattress, a pillow and a bedsheet,” said an official.
“Each prisoner is provided with melamine utensils to have his meals. This includes a glass, a plate or a thali and two bowls. Melamine utensils are preferred as they cannot be used by the inmates to attack other prisoners or the jail staff or cause self-inflicting injuries,” the official said.
The cells are under CCTV cover and have additional guards posted both inside and outside the barrack to keep a round-the-clock vigil on the inmates. Food is served four times during the day inside an earmarked area of the barrack, where the inmates are told to gather. The Model Prison Manual drafted by the Home Ministry prescribes that a male prisoner should have a calorie intake of 2,320-2,730 kcal/day. For female prisoners it is 1,900-2,830 kcal/day.
Another senior official from the Prisons Department told The Indian Express that even before receiving a query from the Centre, a detailed discussion on possible lodging of Mallya in the jail took place earlier this year when reports of the CBI and the ED seeking Mallya’s extradition first emerged.
In the past, the Prisons Department had attached photographs of cells where Mallya could be lodged. They had also provided maps and diagrams.