Story of VIPs, celebrities faking illness to avoid police, judicial custody
JAMMU: Why do politicians, celebrities and other VIPs fall ill soon after remanded to police custody or landing in jails for their acts of omission and commission-mostly corruption and other malpractices. The modus operandi of faking illness is generally to avoid interrogation, judicial custody or confinement in a cell, depending on the status of cases, pending decisions to their bail pleas in courts.
The obtaining drill is to have the mandatory check-ups, known as ‘medical’, in legal parlance, of a person remanded to police or judicial custody. Despite that they take recourse to get into some premier hospital after reporting ‘illnesses’. This ploy continues even when they land in jails after due process of law.
The ailment syndrome has become so common that even the common people know how the politician or a VIP prisoner will behave once ordered to march towards prison. West Bengal’s oldie minister Partha Chatterjee took to the wheelchair with his hands resting on chest the moment Enforcement Directorate sleuths were counting currency notes seized from his ‘young lady aide’s’ apartment.
Faking sickness is the best option to avoid the confines of the prisons.
Landing in jails, faking ailments and getting admitted into premier hospitals of the country is a two-way traffic. In most of the cases, there is complete nexus between the held-up persons and the jail authorities, which facilitate the high profile prisoners to skip four-walled confines, which is why the healthy jail birds find themselves inflicted with plethora of diseases that necessitates them to visit the best possible institutions and five-star private hospitals.
Every prison has MI rooms with doctors who cater to the medical emergencies of jail inmates but in the case of VIPs they find such in-house facilities quite inadequate.
Famous cop, then head of Delhi’s Tihar Jail, Kiran Bedi is on record having stated, “I would always ensure the local doctor of the hospital attached to the jail tested them (VIP prisoners) first. Also, we did not allow anyone from the staff to be overawed by their fame. We responded case by case. The powerful people know we would not fall in line, or be controlled by them. We did not rush (the prisoners) to AIIMS. We went to the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital across the street.”Bedi was quite right in her sense of discretion. This needs to be emulated in all the jails. After all, the Centre and the state governments have been spending whooping funds on creating health infrastructure, which certainly caters to the needs of the entire population of the country. Why should the VIP prisoners get special treatment in the best possible facilities and that too for faking ailments? There is a need for reforms, which are unlikely to come from the governments. The judiciary must rein in and look into this aspect. Those seeking recourse to hospitals to avert jail stays should, in fact, be referred to the local hospitals, which lack the facilities of good toilets, adequate hygiene and sanitation so that they have a bitter taste of what they have left for the common Indians while enjoying lobes of power. The referral should be the discretion of the concerned medical superintendent or medical officer on the basis of the health issues the VIP prisoner is suffering. This actually happened just two days back when AIIMS Bhubaneswar carried out the check up of Mamata Banerjee’s high profile minister Partha on the directions of the Calcutta High Court and discharged him after observing that though he was suffering from several chronic illnesses, hospitalization is not required at this moment. The Investigating Officer (IO) of the Enforcement Directorate was handed over the reports for submission to the HC. This speaks of the growing trend of VIP prisoners taking the hospital route for enjoying privileges and comforts emulating the trend, his aide Arpita Mukherji, currently under custody, too has followed the suit and complained that she has fallen ill.
The VIP prisoners, from all hues, consider hospitalization as their entitlement. Even those involved in anti-national activities or waging war against the nation get best possible treatments in premier hospitals. From the former Home Minister P Chidhambram to former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, almost all the politicians have been beneficiaries of best treatment with all expenses borne by the government. From Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasaab to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah etc, the doors of the best hospitals of the country remained always open. No advance appointment, no waiting and no expenses. All free.
The VIPs, fabricating illness, avail of priority entry and medicare into premier hospitals like AIIMS, Fortis, Medanta, PGI where ordinary patients dream to get even OPD consultations for months together. Some patients die in their long wait for specialized treatment. The successive governments have been so liberal in this country that when Syed Ali Geelani was refused entry by the US for being the protagonist of violence as means for achieving political objectives, the Indian government, which was at the receiving end of his tantrums, felt ‘only obliged’ if he was pleased to accept undergoing treatment in a premier Mumbai hospital. And, the late Geelani obliged them.
This is how the criminal ecosystem is working in the country. The VIPs and celebrities will continue to have the best of both worlds unless a drastic course correction is undertaken. Who will do it?