The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday refused to pass any directions to jail authorities in Haryana for providing two meals – before and after the period of fasting — to Muslim prisoners during the holy month of Ramzan, saying it would lead to people from all religions seeking similar directives.
The observation came during the hearing of a PIL filed by a Haryana resident seeking directions to Haryana government, DGP (Prisons) Haryana and the superintendents of the 22 central and district jails in Haryana for providing two meals at the time of ‘Sehri’ (just before sunrise) and ‘Iftari’ (just after sunset) to the prisoners to allow them to observe the fast during the month of Ramzan.
A division bench of the High Court said there should be a uniform policy on it and the decision should be taken at administrative level. “Tomorrow people celebrating Navratri will seek similar relief. We cannot pass the direction. It has to be an administrative decision,” the division bench observed. The petitioner from Haryana’s Nuh district in the plea before the HC had said the Muslim prisoners are facing problems in performing the religious offering.
“The petition had been filed in May with the prayer that authorities may adjust the breakfast as Iftar and lunch as Sehri in respect of Muslim prisoners inside the jail,” said advocate Mohammad Arshad, the counsel in the PIL. Muslims in the month of Ramazan observe fast from the morning till late evening. The breakfast is taken just before the sunrise and the fast is later broken at the sunset.
The petitioner in the case had said that Muslim prisoners in Bhondasi and Neemaka jails were facing difficulty in performing their religious obligation because of the usual timings for the meals and it was a violation of their freedom of religion.
“The authority is not taking any initiative to encourage the religious activities rather depriving the Muslim prisoners from keeping Roza (fast) during the holy month of Ramzan,” the petitioner said. “The state machinery ought to have made necessary arrangement to provide two times meal to Muslim prisoners in various jails,” the petition added.