mid-day editorial: It's time to clean (jail)house

Even in prison, the rich and the corrupt have it easy. Gourmet food, booze, cigarettes and several other luxuries at the command of inmates able and willing to shell out lakhs to grease the palms of crooked jail officials, as yesterday’s front-page report in this paper highlighted.

An anonymous letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has alleged massive corruption by Thane Central Jail Superintendent Hiralal Jadhav. The letter says the superintendent allows inmates to make calls through his mobile phone, and smuggles in hashish, marijuana and alcohol with the connivance of jailors. There were also accusations that Jadhav would himself brag about greasing palms of the higher-ups to score his lucrative post. The bottom line is that money talks even in jail. For a certain price, inmates can enjoy even those amenities and comforts that are banned from jails.

This paper also reported Jadhav’s version where he says that he is ready for any enquiry and there should not be any cognizance taken of an anonymous letter. While the letter is anonymous and may have been driven by spite or personal vendetta, the accusations are too specific to be simply dismissed. A proper in-depth inquiry is in order; not just the usual empty promises of action.

Now that there has been warning, the inquiry needs to be conducted when the person in question is not on his guard and the probe must be fair. If nothing is proved, those that wrote this letter must be traced and punished, but it’s now time to get a toe into the stables to sniff around and see whether those that have raised a stink had a solid reason to do so.

Let this not be restricted to one jail, we hear of other jails too, which have ‘favourites’ amongst high profile prisoners, for whom many comforts are doled out. Rules are bent for different persons and for different reasons, but this goes against the very concept that everyone is equal before the law.

Let us see to it that prison, a place that houses those who have broken the law, is not a law-breaker itself.

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