The pictures of what Vijay Mallya’s future jail cell in Arthur Road jail would look like has been making news, due to how in contrast they are with what we expected.
Mallya is currently fighting a legal battle against extradition to India on the charges of fraud and money laundering of about Rs. 9,000 crores and is currently on bail on an extradition warrant.
In July, the former Kingfisher Airlines boss’ defence team that is headed by barrister Clare Montgomery not only declined the fraud accusations but also questioned the actual conditions of Barrack 12 of Arthur Road’s Mumbai Central Prison, where Mallya will be held if extradited back to India.
His team demanded an inspection of the jail cell to make sure that it met up to the human rights obligations of UK in relation to extradition cases.
The Judge, Emma Arbuthnot of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court had subsequently asked the Indian authorities to submit a thorough “step by step video” of the jail cell for “the avoidance of doubt” that it violated any humanitarian rules.
The judge had said that, “Can we shoot it during mid-day? I want to see some natural light, sunlight, whether the windows pick up any natural light,” when asking for the video of the cell.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) fighting the case on behalf of the Indian government had agreed to this and an almost 10-minute long video was submitted to the court.
The video showed in detail how the Barrack Number 12 had all the basic facilities like a clean washing area, a lot of natural light, private toilet, television, a lot of space along with also access to a courtyard for walks and a library.
As per another senior official to NDTV, the reason for asking this video was that “The UK court wanted to see if Indian jails are hygienic. We have given them proof of the hygiene level and medical facilities available in jail. In fact, the barrack in which Mallya would be lodged is east-facing so it has lot of sunlight too.”
Are UK Prisons Even As Up To Mark?
But in all of this, one thing is not clear as to why UK is stressing so much that all these facilities be provided to Mallya when in fact their own prisons are not in all that great condition.
The chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke had recently come out with a brutal report about the deteriorating condition of British prisons.
Especially the ones of England and Wale are witnessing the “most disturbing conditions ever seen” since violence, drug use and self-harm of inmate in jails keeps increasing and the prison authorities are not able to curb it.
Clarke was quoted saying by The Independent that, “I realise that in recent years many prisons, short of staff and investment, have struggled to maintain even basic standards of safety and decency. Some prisons, in very difficult circumstances, have made valiant efforts to improve. Others, sadly, have failed to tackle the basic problems of violence, drugs and disgraceful living conditions that have beset so many jails in recent years. I have seen instances where both staff and prisoners alike seem to have become inured to conditions that should not be accepted in 21st century Britain.”
As per reports, there was also an increase of 11% in self-harm among inmates which is the highest level till date. The numbers of such cases rose from 40,161 in 2016 to 44,651 in 2017.
As per an analysis done by The Observer, a newspaper, where it went through almost 118 prison inspection reports, it was deduced that more than two-thirds or 68% of British prisons rate unsatisfactory standards in a variety of different ways with about two out of 5 jails also being called unacceptably unsafe.
Clarke’s report on the other hand also talked about the “totally unacceptable” living situations of the prison inmates where they were sharing cells made for only a single person.
These very cells were then used as “bedroom, dining room and lavatory” even if the toilets had no lid, and Clarke commented on “How is it that in a prison, which is one place there is no shortage of labour to clean places up, can become so unhygienic?”
The findings from the report were then published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons which is a government body that independently takes a critical analysis of the prison system.
Although I can understand that the rules are a little different according to extradition rules, but at the same time, jail time is supposed to be one where you reflect on your previous crimes and actions.
The hard and difficult life of jails is something that adds to it and further makes the prisoner realise the freedom that they once had and how precious it is.
Not to say that jails should not follow a certain standard of sanitation and hygiene since the aim of many is also to rehabilitate the prisoners into normal society and putting them in dirty and unsanitary conditions will do nothing for their betterment.
But then again it should not be something only reserved for 1 person, or those who are rich and influential. Instead, it should be the norm for all prisoners so that they can focus on becoming better citizens once they serve their sentence.
Image Credits: Google Images and Business Insider