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India

Indian jail gets better facilities to house fugitive millionaires

A new block of cells in Mumbai’s largest and oldest prison will be built after complaints from the likes of wanted businessman Vijay Mallya

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 August, 2018, 6:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 31 August, 2018, 6:29pm

The largest and oldest prison in India’s financial hub Mumbai will get a new block of cells that will meet international norms on prisoner rights. The reason: fugitive businessmen are citing poor jail conditions to stave off extradition.

The Mumbai Central Prison, popularly known as the Arthur Road Jail, is demolishing an old structure to make way for the block, The Times of India newspaper reported, citing an official it did not identify. The government is in the process of improving standards of prisons across Maharashtra state in line with standards in the United States and Europe, prisons inspector-general Rajvardhan said in a phone interview.

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“We don’t want anyone saying they don’t want to come back to the country,” he said. The government does not extend any “special treatment” to anyone, he said, declining to comment on facilities that would be provided.

We don’t want anyone saying they don’t want to come back to the country
Prisons inspector-general Rajvardhan

The construction of the new block follows allegations by fugitive Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, who fled India to Britain and told a London court that Barrack 12 at the Arthur Road jail lacks natural light.

India is seeking the extradition of Mallya, who is fighting numerous lawsuits in Britain and his home country over fraud and money-laundering allegations after Indian lenders pursued him for an unpaid debt of about US$1.4 billion owed by his carrier, Kingfisher Airlines, which was grounded in 2012.

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Indian authorities have refurbished some facilities at the more than 90-year-old prison in Mumbai and videos of those cells with fans, television sets, and commode with water jets, have been shared with the court in Britain, the newspaper said.

The cells in the new block, which is expected to be ready in six months, will be clean, have hygienic toilets, and enough sun and light and space to move around, it reported.