WITH the Chief Magistrate of the Westminister Court anxious about ‘daylight’ conditions in Arthur Road Jail of Mumbai, where Vijay Mallya might be lodged if sent back to India, there is a deep focus on the jail architecture here. Though I have never been inside Barrack No. 12 of the infamous jail, I do hold a peep into jail interiors.
Some years ago when heading the school of architecture, I got a call from the CM saheb of Punjab. ‘Principal saheb tohade college di badi tareef suni hai (I have heard a lot about your college)’ the baritone voice of Mr Badal on the line. He wanted us to design model jails for Punjab. Since one doesn’t argue with CMs about lack of experience in the suggested field, we got down to the task in full earnest. In close coordination with the DG Prisons — arriving frequently with his large entourage of screaming Gypsys and red-beacon cars to the tranquil environs of the academia, raising much speculation amidst staff about my turn of fate — we first made a detailed report.
Finally, when our proposals were presented to the CM, he sat through them patiently and said: ‘Tussi to hun jailan vich expert ho gaye ho, magar mainu vee thora gyan hain’ (you have become an expert in jails, but I too have some knowledge), referring to his long incarceration. He shared some first-hand insights and asked us to provide good ‘daylight’ inside the premises and vocational training facilities too.