KARACHI: The Sindh Home Department has initiated an inquiry against the Prisons IG Muzaffar Alam Siddiqui over allegations of renting out shops at the Karachi Central Jail in violation of the rules and demanding kickbacks to award the contracts to the vendors.
The inquiry was initiated on the basis of a complaint filed by Cosmos Enterprises, who wrote a letter to the Sindh Chief Secretary, alleging that the IG Siddiqui, who was deputed to the post in December 2018, was demanding a bribe to renew their contract.
According to the letter written by Cosmos Enterprises, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the contractor states that they have been running the kitchen at the Karachi Central Jail for the past several years under a contract given to them on subsidised rates.
As validation of the quality of their services, Cosmos Enterprises claim that the Chief Justice of Pakistan as well as other judges, the chief minister, the incumbent and former prisons ministers and Senate standing committee members have paid surprise visits to the kitchen several times and have found the quality of the food more than satisfactory. "Every week, different districts of Karachi Sessions Judges… used to go to different barracks and asked the prisoners about the quality of our food and always appreciate us," the letter states.
The company also claims in the letter that it has gone beyond its agreement to provide fresh fruits and dietary-specific items for prisoners on doctors' advice, besides providing legal assistance to prisoners who couldn't afford it or even arranging to pay the fines of prisoners who didn't have the means to do so.
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"The subject Inspector General… demanded a huge amount from us which we are not able to pay and he wants us to commit a bad factor which is not feasible for us," the letter alleges.
It goes on to add that IG Siddiqui has also awarded a three-year contract of the canteen, in violation of the Sindh Public Procurement Rules Act.
Normally, contracts are only awarded for a year, with the chance to renew it in subsequent years.
The letter also claims that the said contract was awarded without inviting tenders in exchange for "Rs2.5 million illegal gratification".
The canteen referred to in the shop is located in the waiting area of the prison where visitors arrive to meet the inmates. The visitors can purchase goods to give to the prisoners from this point.
In addition, there are nearly 30 shops inside the jail, from where inmates may purchase daily supplies.
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Each prisoner is allowed to keep a tab of Rs10,000, which is accounted for in a ledger maintained by the superintendent.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2019.