Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya has issued a statement on loan default charges.Reuters

Stung by fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya's allegations of "pathetic" prisons in India, prison authorities are setting up a new block of cells in Arthur Road jail that will meet international norms on prisoner rights.

An old ground-plus-one structure within the 93-year-old jail in the heart of Mumbai will be demolished to make way for the block with about a dozen cells and toilets spread over the ground and first floors.

An official told The Times of India that they expect the building to be ready in six months and house fugitive millionaires who could be brought back to face trials in frauds.

"The cells will meet European and UK prison standards and all human rights criteria. The public works department has started work and received quotations for the demolition of the building," an official said.

The new building is being planned as a final solution to a trend among fugitive businessmen to cite "poor jail conditions" as an excuse to oppose extradition to India.

For the moment, some facilities that have housed high-profile prisoners at Arthur Road have been refurbished and videos of those facilities with fans, TV, and commode with water jets have been shared with UK courts hearing the Mallya extradition case.

"There will only be a specific number of prisoners in these cells. They will be clean, have hygienic toilets, enough sun and light and space to move around," added the officer.

Like almost all Indian jails, Arthur Road is chronically overcrowded with few facilities for prisoners' well-being. Built for some 800 prisoners, at any given time it houses around 2,800.

Besides Mallya, whose is accused of defaulting on loans worth over Rs 9,000 crore, the CBI and ED are trying to bring back diamantaires Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, accused of fraud worth almost Rs 13,000 crore using letters of undertaking issued by Punjab National Bank.

Since the fight for these fugitives will play out in foreign courts, global human rights standards including rules that apply to imprisonment, rights of detainees and condition of jails will have to be met.

In UK jails, for instance, prisoners are entitled to protection from bullying and racial harassment, healthcare on a par with other citizens, and outing for up to an hour in the open air every day.