The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Law does what Laloo won't

Patna, Dec. 8: Justice was not delayed in Bihar this noon ' and Laloo Prasad Yadav had little to do with it.

Whipped by the court, rapid-action raids rolled across Bihar's jails ' a symbol of the lawlessness that many associate with the state ' at a pace and sweep rarely seen in the country in the execution of judicial orders.

Around 11 am, Patna High Court instructed the government to raid the 55 prisons in the state and seize all articles ' especially mobile phones that help politicians as well as crime lords run with impunity their empires outside ' the inmates keep in violation of rules. Eventually, the items that popped out included not just tools of business but also that of pleasure, such as condoms.

The conditions laid down by the court for the crackdown virtually took the jail administration out of the hands of the state government ' a key factor that made the difference in the raids that should continue for 24 hours.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Nagendra Rai said personnel of the Bihar Military Police (BMP) should be deployed for the raids inside Beur Jail and the drive supervised by a district and sessions judge.

High on specifics, the court added that the state police force should not form part of the raiding parties and that the premises of jail officials should also be searched. The BMP is a special force that reports directly to the state home department.

The media was directed to delay the release of the news by an hour to ensure that prisoners did not get any wind of the impending operation.

Within an hour, the raids roared off the block and found some success in Beur Jail, the most infamous prison in the state where Pappu Yadav, an MP belonging to Laloo Prasad's RJD, is housed in connection with a murder case.

The last straw that prompted the court to act ' though it came on a petition by the Indian Medical Association after a series of abductions of doctors ' appears to be a 'durbar' held by Pappu a few days ago. Over 50 visitors had called on him and arm-twisted those who challenged their presence in the jail.

At least four mobile phones, one belonging to Pappu, were impounded from the jail. Four employees were suspended, too. The details of the articles seized will be filed in the court on Monday but officials described the seizure as 'substantial'. The condoms, along with a mobile phone and a dagger, were found inside Gaya Central Jail.

With the chief secretary and the director-general of police making an appearance, the high court bench virtually served an ultimatum on the government to act or face the consequences.

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