VK Sasikala, the live-in aide of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, has been enjoying VIP facilities in jail, a query under the Right to Information Act has found. The 59-year-old, who is serving a four-year jail term after being convicted in disproportionate assets case, had managed to get many of the privileges she was not entitled to – including five rooms, a private cook and kitchen space, and an endless stream of visitors.
RTI activist Narasimha Murthy, who had filed the query, says all this was achieved through hefty bribes. Officials at the Parappana Agrahara Central Jail had initially turned down Sasikala’s request for a series of privileges – including private television, home-cooked food and non-vegetarian meals.
Mr Murthy said women convicts, who were staying in four of the rooms, were “sent out” and all five rooms were given to VK Sasikala when she reached the jail on till February 14, 2017.
“There is no provision for cooking food in the prison, but jail authorities deputed a convict to cook for Sasikala,” he added. Ignoring the rules and systems in place, people came to visit her in groups, went to her room directly and stay for 3-4 hours, he added.
Later that year, a senior police officer, D Roopa, alleged that Sasikala was enjoying VIP facilities – separate kitchen, extra rooms and extended visiting – after giving a huge bribe to the officials, rumoured to be around Rs 2 crore.
She even said she suspected that her boss, then Director General of Prisons HN Satyanarana Rao, was one of the beneficiaries.
Days later, the D Roopa was transferred to the traffic section and Mr Rao, who was to retire by the month-end, was asked to go on leave.
Retired IAS Officer Vinay Kumar, who investigated the allegations since, confirmed that rules were indeed broken. Sasikala and her aides received many facilities, said the report of the panel he headed.
The committee said they had investigated CCTV footage and a Register maintained by the jail authorities. It showed all the malpractices that went on – from five rooms to a cook called Ajantha, and visitors almost every day, when most convicts are allowed to meet visitors twice in a month at the most.
Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, who was the home minister in the government headed by Siddaramaiah at the time, said, “I don’t think so”.