SC directs suspension of Tihar officials for conniving with ex-Unitech promoters


After a stormy hearing, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered immediate suspension and a full-fledged probe against some Tihar Jail officials, who were identified by the Delhi Police Commissioner in a report for extending undue assistance to ex-Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra.

On August 26, the top court hadordered shifting of Chandra brothers, in a money laundering case involving Unitech company, to separate jails in Mumbai.

The Delhi Police informed the top court that a criminal case has been lodged against the jail officials under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, against the backdrop of Delhi Police chief’s report, said prima facie, it appears jail officials have connived with the accused; therefore, they should be placed under suspension.

The order was passed after Delhi Police chief Rakesh Asthana, in his report, sought permission for a full-fledged criminal investigation against “the person mentioned and also against the unknown persons who are not mentioned”.

“We direct those officials of Tihar Jail, who were prima facie found to be complicit, will be suspended for the time being till the pendency of proceedings,” the order said.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing Chandra brothers, urged the top court to provide them access to forensic auditor Grant Thornton’s report, which is necessary for the accused to defend themselves.

A heated exchange took place between the bench and Singh, as he urged the top court not to proceed in an ex-parte manner in the matter, and cited that his client’s family members have been put behind the bars. Singh reiterated that he should be allowed to defend against the backdrop of Grant Thornton report. However, the bench declined Singh’s plea to access the report.

On August 26, the top court ordered shifting of Chandra brothers following a report by the Enforcement Directorate claiming it has found a “secret underground office”, which was being operated by their father and Unitech founder Ramesh Chandra, and both his sons Sanjay and Ajay visited the office, when on parole or bail. The agency had alleged that it was done in collusion with the Tihar Jail authorities. The top court had observed that attempts were made by the brothers to undermine its jurisdiction.