Observing that Tihar jail officials gave him preferential treatment in violation of prison rules, a Delhi court rejected AAP leader Satyendar Jain’s plea seeking a special diet for his religious fast.
Special Judge Vikas Dhull arrived at this conclusion based on the fact that 26 officials of Tihar jail 7 and the superintendent were transferred in November “which prima facie shows that Tihar jail officials of jail no 7 were providing preferential treatment to the applicant by providing fruits and vegetables”.
Jain has been on a diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts in jail and moved court alleging that this special diet was withdrawn by jail authorities which resulted in a 28 kg loss.
Remarking that the “State cannot provide any special privileges to anyone in the country,” the court came to the conclusion that providing fruits and vegetables to Jain was in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution as the State is bound to treat all prisoners equally, and there can be no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, sex, religion, status, etc.
Although fruits and vegetables can only be purchased from the jail canteen, Jain’s expenditure details “establish on record that consumption of fruits/vegetables by the applicant was not done after purchasing the same from the jail canteen,” the court reasoned.
It noted that fruits and vegetables were instead provided in violation of the DG Prison and the Delhi Prison Rules.
The court held that Jain’s weight loss cannot be attributed to the Tihar jail administration.
“A person, who does not consume regular food is bound to lose weight. Even a dietician prescribes a fruit and vegetable diet when a person intends to lose weight. Therefore, a loss of weight of the applicant is on account of his not consuming regular food and Tihar jail administration is not responsible for the same,” the court said.
The court observed that when the applicant shows his desire to observe a religious fast, as enjoined by his religion, then he shall inform the jail administration in writing, and thereafter, the administration will decide the request as per the rules under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018.
The court said that since the dry fruits diet was stopped by the medical officer, it cannot be substituted with the advice of the doctor at its own discretion. It noted that this medical officer had advised the stoppage of dry fruits and had further advised the applicant to take regular food available in Tihar jail, but Jain was not following the officer’s medical opinion.