Retired Director General of Police (prisons) HN Satyanarayana Rao, who is facing corruption charges for allegedly providing special privileges to VK Sasikala in Parapanna Agrahara Central Jail, made a startling revelation on Tuesday.
In a statement submitted to the Karnataka High Court, Rao alleged that he was only following orders given by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in providing special privileges to Sasikala, who was former TN CM Jayalalithaa’s aide.
The former DGP had moved the High Court challenging the FIR filed against him by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Reacting strongly to Rao’s statement, CM Siddaramaiah said that he had not directed Rao to provide luxurious facilities to Sasikala and that the former DGP was making baseless allegations.
“I have never told the former DGP to offer special treatment to VK Sasikala, who is serving jail term in Parappana Agrahara Central Prison. One of her party men had come to meet me from Tamil Nadu and had told me that Sasikala was not being given even the basic facilities in prison. Hence, I had directed HN Satyanarayana Rao to provide only those facilities provided in the prison manual. I did not ask him to give her a cot, bed and pillow. He is making these baseless allegations because an ACB probe was ordered against the irregularities in the prison,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said.
According to highly placed sources in the Home Department, the retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar’s fact finding report on the case says nothing about the alleged corruption against HNS Rao.
“First of all, nobody is giving any importance to the facts, that even HNS Rao has himself agreed. The cot, bed and five chairs that were given to Sasikala itself are illegal and in contravention with the prison manual,” the source said.
“Can a DG take oral orders? Why would Rao give special preference to Sasikala? There must be some quid pro quo arrangement and that will come out if there is a fair trial. Nobody can deny that a whole corridor was fortified for her. There is CCTV footage to show that she would roam around without wearing the prison uniform. Moreover, Vinay Kumar’s report does not talk about the corruption and other irregularities in the prison. The request to quash the FIR is a defensive tactic by HNS Rao. If he is so confident of his innocence why should he go for quashing?” the source argued.
Confirming the source’s statement, Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy told TNM that the Vinay Kumar panel will not probe the corruption angle as that is under the purview of the ACB.
The case so far
On February 26, the Karnataka government had issued an order directing the ACB to conduct a probe on allegations made by the then DIG Prisons, D Roopa, that Rao had accepted a bribe of Rs 2 crore to extend favours to VK Sasikala.
Justice Vineet Kothari, who is hearing Rao’s case to quash the ACB FIR, had asked Rao’s counsel to submit a copy of the inquiry report filed by Vinay Kumar and the copy of the ACB’s FIR.
It was during this hearing on Tuesday that Rao’s counsel had submitted a statement and two representations where class-I facility for Sasikala were rejected citing order no 459 of the Karnataka Prison Manual.
“The Chief Minister had called me to a guesthouse and asked about facilities given to VK Sasikala. I told him that she was given the facilities as a normal prisoner. The Chief Minister asked me to provide only a cot, bed and pillow. I only complied with orders,” Rao’s statement says.
The ACB is now gathering documents to conduct a probe under Section 13(1) (Criminal misconduct of a public servant) and 13(2) (if the public servant habitually accepts or obtains any gratification other than legal remuneration as a motive or reward).
The alleged irregularities in the prison had come to light when the then DIG D Roopa filed a report to the DGP and sent a copy to the Home Department stating that prison staff was providing VIP treatment to Sasikala and violating the prison manual. DIG Roopa had also alleged that many other inmates were being provided similar facilities for monetary gain.