Deepkamal Kaur, Tribune News Service
Kapurthala, April 6. It’s just that VIP convict Bibi Jagir Kaur can’t roam around freely, but she has been enjoying all other privileges of a free person ever since she has was brought to the Modern Jail here last week. Even in confinement, the former Akali minister, who has been sent to five-year RI in connection with the murder of her daughter Harpreet, is being allowed to receive the choicest food and the best variety of fruits. This is not acceptable as per the Punjab Jail Manual.
The para 809 of the manual reads, “No criminal or civil prisoner shall at any time receive or possess or be permitted to receive or consume any article of food or drink not provided for in the rules.”
Para 815 gives detail on the diet of B-class prisoner. This states: “Each prisoner to be issued just one cup of tea daily. During summers, cold drinks may be issued in place of tea if desired and within limits or cost. Early morning meal to be cooked using 115 gms of wheat flour, 15 gms each of ghee, potatoes and curd. Midday meal to have 230 gms of wheat flour and 230 gms of vegetables. Evening meal to have 230 gms each of wheat flour and dal, in addition to 30 gms of milk, meat, fish or eggs.”
Bibi has been mingling with her near and dear ones. Her younger daughter Rajneet and nearly 150 visitors have been meeting her daily. All this despite the fact that the Punjab Jail Manual, however, imposes severe restrictions in this regard.
Rule 511 of the manual says that even a prisoner admitted to B class is allowed to write and receive one letter and have one interview weekly. “The number of persons who may visit a prisoner at any given time shall be limited to two. The discussion of political questions shall not be allowed and conversation shall be limited to private and domestic matters”, it stipulated.
Rule 468 has a special mention about new convicts. “Every newly convicted prisoner shall be allowed reasonable facilities for seeing or communicating with his relatives and friends with a view to preparation of an appeal or to procuring of bail.”
Rule 479 says the time allowed for an interview should not ordinarily exceed 30 minutes, which could be extended at the discretion of the Superintendent.
Bibi Jagir Kaur was last week sent to jail after she was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by a CBI court for conspiring in forcible abortion and abduction in connection with the mysterious death of her teenaged daughter Harpreet Kaur 12 years ago.
No violation, says minister
Minister for Jails Sarwan Singh Phillaur denied any violation of the jail manual in the case of Bibi Jagir Kaur. “Since Bibi is a political figure, there is no reason she should not be allowed to meet visitors. The jail superintendent also has discretionary powers in such cases,” he said.
Asked about the fruits and other home-cooked delicacies being allowed into prison, he said, “Whosoever comes brings food to express their love for her.”
Bibi is a B-class prisoner
These inmates are non-habitual prisoners
They have social status and education and are accustomed to a superior mode of living
They have not been convicted of offences involving sedition, cruelty, offences related to TADA or convicted under the NDPS Act
What the jail manual prescribes
Daily diet: One cup of tea daily; during summer, cold drinks may replace tea, if desired and within limits or cost; early morning meal to be cooked using 115 gm wheat flour, 15 gm each of ghee, potatoes and curd; midday meal to have 230 gm each wheat flour and vegetables; evening meal to have 230 gm each wheat flour and dal in addition to 30 gm of milk, meat, fish or eggs
What she gets: Choicest food from home and the best variety of fruits
B-class prisoners allowed to write and receive one letter and have one interview weekly, not exceeding 30 minutes, extendable at jailor’s discretion What she gets Around 150 high-profile visitors every day