Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

Controversies Over VIP Treatment To Satyendar Jain In Tihar Jail: What Does Jail Manual Say

Controversies Over VIP Treatment To Satyendar Jain In Tihar Jail: What Does Jail Manual Say

Amid allegations of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi minister Satyendar Jain getting 'VIP treatment' in Tihar Jail, a video emerged showing him getting massage. The AAP said he was getting physiotherapy but reports have said the person massaging Jain was not a masseur but a rape-accused fellow prisoner of Tihar.

AAP leader and Delhi minister Satyendar Jain
AAP leader and Delhi minister Satyendar Jain Twitter

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi minister Satyendar Jain has approached the court to seek certain food items in Tihar jail. 

Jain is lodged in Tihar Jail as he is under investigation by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in corruption and money laundering cases. He is a subject of an ongoing controversy over allegedly receiving 'VIP treatment' in Tihar. A video recently surfaced that showed Jain being massaged by a person, said to be a fellow prisoner.

Jain's treatment in jail has been a subject of war of words between AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the BJP has alleged VIP treatment and abuse of power, the AAP has said Jain is simply seeking physiotherapy and the BJP is mocking his ill-health.

In the latest development, Jain has requested certain food items as per his religious beliefs through the court.

Here we explain the controversy over Jain's alleged VIP treatment, what Jain has requested, and what Tihar Jail Manual says about prisoners' stay in jail.

Satyendar Jain's VIP treatment or physiotherapy?

A video last month emerged that showed Jain in Tihar Jail getting massage.

In the leaked clip said to be from Tihar Jail's CCTV footage, Jain was shown receiving massage as he read papers on a bed. Later in the clip, he was joined by four-five others and was seen having a conversation with them.

The BJP lashed out at AAP over the video. VIP treatment of Jain in the jail has been alleged for some time. 

BJP National Spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said, "So instead of sazaa (punishment), Satyendar Jain was getting full VVIP mazaa (fun)? Massage inside Tihar Jail? Hawalabaaz who hasn't got bail for five months get head massage! Violation of rules in a jail run by AAP government. This is how official position [is] abused for Vasooli and massage, thanks to Kejriwal. 

"One more. All rules thrown to the dustbin! VVIP treatment in jail! Can Kejriwal defend such a mantri (minister)? Should he not be sacked? This shows true face of AAP! Vasooli and VVIP Massage inside Tihar Jail! Tihar is under AAP government."

The AAP responded by saying that Jain had a spine injury and he was receiving physiotherapy in the video for that injury.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the BJP was mocking Jain's injury for political gains.

The PTI quoted Sisodia as saying, "He [Jain] had sustained an injury to his spine and even underwent two surgeries. The doctor had advised physiotherapy upon discharge and those videos show him getting physiotherapy. They (BJP) are losing the MCD and Gujarat polls and that is why they are resorting to such cheap theatrics. They should fight the MCD elections in Delhi on issues."

Meanwhile, at least four prison officials have been suspended over undue favours to Jain, according to reports.

Tihar's Jail 7 Superintendent Ajit Kumar and three officials attached to him have so far been suspended, according to Hindustan Times, which further reported that, additionally, 28 officials have been transferred out of the jail.

Notably, Tihar Jail comes under the domain of Delhi government even as Delhi Police comes under the Union Home Ministry. Prior to his imprisonment, Jain held the prison department portfolio in the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government. 

Moreover, Tihar has also been in controversies lately over claims of alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekar, who has accused former Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel extorting over Rs 12 crore as "protection money".

Satyendar Jain's latest food request

Jain has now approached the court to seek certain food items as per his religious beliefs. He has further claimed that he is being starved by the jail authorities and is being denied proper medical check-ups.

As a follower of Jainism religion, Jain has sought food items like fruits, dry fruits, and dates as he is obsering a fast. The court has sought a response from the ED on Jain's request.

The PTI reported that Jain's application has also sought a direction to the prison officials to immediately conduct his medical check-up. It said that Jain was "a strict adherent of Jainism", but he was not being provided basic food that is partaken under his religion and medical facilities inside the prison. 

The application alleged that from the day of Jain's arrest on May 31, he has not been able to visit a Jain temple, and "being a strict Jain religious observer, he has been on a religious fast and was not having cooked food, pulses, grains and milk products", said the complaint. 

"In the meantime, he has suffered a major fall in jail which led to a severe spine injury, for which he was treated by LNJP Hospital. He also has lung patches, which is a post-Covid symptom," the application further claimed, as per PTI, adding that for the last 12 days, the jail administration has stopped providing him basic food items as per his religious beliefs.

What jail manual says on prisoners' food, health?

Tihar jail is governed by the Tihar Jail Manual published in 2018. It is available on the website of Department of Prisons, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The 517-page Tihar Jail Manual details every aspect of prison management, from the admission and lodging of prisoners to dietary and health aspects.

The manual lists the nutritional requirement of prisoners and lists the food items to be given to them. However, it also says that diet of prisoners can be changed as per their health condition or medical requirements. It further says when a prisoner is sick, the diet will be regulated by the medical officials of the jail. 

The AAP alleged that Jain was receiving physiotherapy in the leaked video for his spine injury but the manual says there are separate physiotherapy units inside the jail for the purpose, along with other health-related units such as for dental and psychiatric care. Therefore, according to rules, Jain should not normally be receiving physiotherapy inside his cell.

"In every prison there will be separate hospitals with the necessary number of beds for indoor treatment with separate ward for men and women. All central and district prisons should be provided hospital accommodation for 5% of the authorized inmate population," says the manual.

The manual lists physiotherapy along with other wellness-related activities of prisoners, such as deaddiction, treatments of hearing, speech, sight, etc., as the duty of prison authorities.

The leaked video also shows people, apparently fellow prisoners, to be casually walking inside Jain's cell and talking to him. This too appears to be prohibited as per the jail manual.

"Wandering about the sleeping barracks, at any time, is strictly prohibited. If the prisoner leaves his sleeping berth frequently, without any purpose what-so-ever, the prison functionary on duty shall report the matter to the warder on duty who will, if he considers necessary, inform his superior about the same," says Tihar Jail Manual.

The request for particular food items as per religious beliefs is allowed under the jail manual and Jain should be provided such food as per the manual.

"Prisoners who observe religious fasts may receive extra articles of food suitable for such fasts as per local practices {such as potatoes, fruits, etc.}, or may have the whole or a part of their meal at a place and time of day, as may be allowed by orders of the government for proper observance of fasts by them," says the jail manual.

Upon hospitalisation, the diet as well as the overall management of the prisoner will be at the discretion of Resident Medical Officer (RMO) and health officials, as per the manual. 

All medical personnel at the hospital are supposed to wear a uniform and physiotherapy is supposed to be one of the mandates of the prison authorities.

"The Health & Family welfare Department and the requisite equipments shall be procured by the prison authorities. Adequate physiotherapy facility shall be provided in each hospital...The medical staff posted to the prison hospitals shall wear the uniform prescribed by Health & Family Welfare Department," says the Tihar Jail Manual.

As per these rules, the person massaging Jain in the leaked video should have been wearing a uniform.

Jain's masseur was a rape accused: Report

Contrary to Sisodia's claim that Jain was receiving mandated physiotherapy, reports have said the person massaging Jain is a rape-accused fellow prisoner.

The PTI on Tuesday reported, citing sources, that the masseur who was seen in video footage giving a massage to Jain was a prisoner named Rinku.

"He is lodged in the prison in connection with a rape case and sections of the POCSO Act. Rinku is not a physiotherapist," said sources to PTI.

POCSO Act stands for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. It was brought to address the issue of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment of children. POCSO, unlike the Indian Penal Code (IPC), is a gender-neutral law which also covers male children.