Mumbai’s Arthur road jail, where fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya would be kept after extradition from the UK, was one of the best in the country, Home Affairs Ministry officials said today.
The prisons in India were as good as in any other country in the world and prisoners’ rights were fully protected in Indian jails. Mallya’s apprehension about threat to his life was “misleading”, a Home Affairs Ministry official said.
The comments came after a court in the UK today asked the Indian authorities to submit a video within three weeks of Arthur Road Jail cell where they plan to keep Mallya post-extradition to face the law in connection with the Rs 9,000 crore loan default cases.
The official said that adequate medical facilities were available to treat the prisoners in Arthur road jail, where Mallya would get full security cover as an undertrial prisoner and it was highly secured as per international standards. The central government had already conducted an assessment of security cover given to prisoners in the Arthur road jail and its findings conveyed to the UK court.
Mallya, 62, was in the UK since March 2016 and he was arrested by the Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant on April 18. However, he was soon granted bail by the court. India and the UK have an extradition treaty, signed in 1992, but so far only one extradition has taken place under the arrangement.
Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel was sent to India last October to face trial in connection with his alleged involvement in the post-Godhra riots of 2002. However, unlike Mallya, he had submitted to the extradition order without legal challenge. During a brief hearing in London today, Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was not able to hear the case fully and just addressed representations from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian government, and Mallya’s defence team on the conditions at Barrack 12 of Mumbai Central Prison.
She asked the Indian authorities to submit a “step by step video” of Barrack 12 for “the avoidance of doubt” over the availability of natural light in the cell where the businessman was expected to be detained pre-trial, during trial and in the event he was convicted by the Indian courts.