Vijay Mallya, founder and chairman of Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., center, speaks to members of the media as he arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Fugitive Millionaires to Get Better Living Conditions in Indian Jail

(Bloomberg) -- The largest and oldest prison in India’s financial hub Mumbai will get a new block of cells that will meet international norms on prisoner rights. The reason: fugitive businessmen are citing poor jail conditions to stave off extradition.

The Mumbai Central Prison, popularly known as the Arthur Road Jail, is demolishing an old structure to make way for the block, the Times of India newspaper reported, citing an official it did not identify. The government is in the process of improving standards of prisons across Maharashtra state in line with standards in the U.S. and Europe, Rajvardhan, inspector general, prisons, said in a phone interview.

“We don’t want anyone saying they don’t want to come back to the country,” he said. The government doesn’t extend any “special treatment” to anyone, he said, declining to comment on facilities that will be provided.

The construction of the new block follows allegations by fugitive Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, who fled India to the U.K. and told a London court that Barrack 12 at the Arthur Road jail lacks natural light. India is seeking the extradition of Mallya, who is fighting numerous lawsuits in the U.K. and his home country over fraud and money-laundering allegations after Indian lenders have pursued him for an unpaid debt of about $1.4 billion owed by his carrier that was grounded in 2012.

Indian authorities have refurbished some facilities at the more than 90-year-old prison in Mumbai and videos of those cells with fans, television sets, and commode with water jets, have been shared with the court in the U.K., the newspaper said. The cells in the new block, which is expected to be ready in six months, will be clean, have hygienic toilets, and enough sun and light and space to move around, it reported.

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