The Tihar Jail administration, in its response to Satyendar Jain's plea for food in keeping with his religious beliefs, stated that as per the jail record, there was no request with the office of the Superintendent, Central Jail where the jailed minister had informed about observing a fast in accordance with his religious beliefs.
"Therefore, the question of allowing/permitting him to such a fast by the prison administration does not arise," the Taihar administration stated in its response.
Abhijeet Shankar, the lawyer for Tihar administration, made it clear that dry fruits are not permitted to a prisoner and, hence, could not be taken as an alternative to a regular meal, behind bars.
"However, if dry fruits are prescribed by the medical officer for a certain period of time as a supplement, then, in such circumstances, the same may be permitted for such prisoners for a limited period of time," Shankar submitted in court.
The Tihar administration also stated that Jail, an undertrial prisoner, had opted for his own diet, instead of the regular jail meal which is not only balanced and equipped with all nutritional values but also palatable. "The jail meal/diet is uniformly provided to all jail inmates except in cases where a medical diet is ordered or prescribed by the medical officer," it added.
It added that as per Delhi Prison Rules, there is a jail canteen for every prison, with provision for catering beverages and eatables, including fruits, vegetables for salad, items of basic need and stationery items, among others. It said all provisions ae made available for prisoners in accordance with the sanction of IG (Prisons) from time to time.
Any prisoner may purchase items worth Rs 7,000 per month from the jail canteen, with the exception of those barred from doing so as a punishment.
"It is apparent from the jail record that the UTP Satyendar Jain is regularly buying vegetables/salads/fruits/namkeen/biscuits/ mineral water/bread pakora water/chocolate/wafers/peanut butter/tea bags/milk etc. for his own consumption since his admission to the jail," the Tihar administration stated.
After hearing arguments on both sides, the special court on Thursday reserved its judgement on the order on Jain's plea seeking a direction to food being served as per his religious beliefs during his judicial custody.
Special Judge Vikas Dhull on Thursday reserved his judgement in the matter and scheduled the next hearing for Friday.
"Our administration supplies a balanced and nutritious diet uniformly to all the prisoners lodged in Delhi Prisons irrespective of any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, sex etc. That the conjoint reading of the rule of the position of Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 nowhere determines that the fast keeping/observing by a prisoner may go for an indefinite period. As per general beliefs, there is a particular span of time/days for which a person usually keeps a fast like in the Navratras or the Ramzan month. Further, the rules provide religious fast and not a fast undertaken by an individual as per his own choice or liking," the Tihar administration submitted in its response to Jain's plea.
Appearing for Jain, senior advocate Rahul Mehra submitted, "Under which provision are they saying that a prisoner can't go on an indefinite fast. We are in a country where everyone is free to profess his or her own religion. No one can stop me from professing my religion. My client is not even getting basic food in jail. Have his human rights been taken away, too?"
On the raging political controversy over a leaked videotape from inside Jain's cell at Tihar, purportedly showing him getting a body massage, Mehra said, "Someone was just pressing my client's hand as he had a fall inside jail."
On his client's plea to be served food as per his religious beliefs, his lawyer said, "He is a Jain and all his life, he has eaten only after visiting a temple. That's the reason why my client is no fast. No one can stop my client from professing his religion."
Jain's counsel further sought direction to restrain the media from airing or broadcasting 'any clip of CCTV related to Satyender Jain'. He said we are moving high court.
Mehra also denied ED's allegation that Jain was getting privileged treatment in Tihar Jail. He said, "What privilege are they talking about? My client has lost 28kgs in jail. He is not even getting proper food. What privilege are they talking about? Ne no prison rules are violated if an undertrial is getting his hand or feet pressed."
"Even Ajmal Kasab (26/11 accused) got a free and fair trial. My client is surely not worse than that. All my client seeks is a fair and free trial. Please look at the kind of media reports that are being run against my client," Mehra submitted in court.
The court was also informed that multiple agencies were investigating how the Jail's protocols were allegedly compromised to benefit Jain. The footage circulating in the media were also shared with the minister's counsel.
On Saturday, Jain moved the special court with an application seeking contempt action against the ED, claiming that it leaked the CCTV footage despite an undertaking in court not to do so.