The Delhi High Court recently refused to allow an ailing undertrial prisoner to wear jeans and sports shoes in jail, asserting that his fundamental rights are subject to reasonable restrictions owing to him being in prison.
Justice Mukta Gupta observed, “Grievance of the petitioner is not that he has not been given dignified food to eat or clothes to wear or there was any misbehaviour violating his fundamental rights but he seeks to wear clothes specifically of his own choice particularly the jeans and sports shoes, which are prohibited in jail. Though the petitioner’s fundamental rights are guarded but being in the prisons, the said rights are subject to reasonable restrictions.”
The court was hearing a petition filed by one Asadullah Akhtar, who has six FIRs filed against him, out of which in one FIR, charge sheet has been filed by the National Investigating Agency. He had now approached the court submitting that he is suffering from several ailments such as asthma, atopic dermatitis of both upper and lower limbs, seborrhoeic dermatitis and lumbar back pain.
He had asserted that despite suffering from atopic dermatitis of both upper and lower limbs, he is not being allowed to wear appropriate clothing. He had therefore petitioned the court, in order to enforce his fundamental right to be allowed to wear jeans and sports shoes in jail.
Examining his plea, Justice Gupta noted that the rationale behind not permitting the under-trials or convicts to wear sports shoes with spongy/padded ankles is that there are chances of concealment of prohibited materials in them. She further explained that the metal buttons in the jeans evade detection of other metallic substances in the possession of the convict/under-trial, making it easy to smuggle prohibited articles.
The court then referred to Supreme Court judgments recognizing rights of prisoners but asserted that the rights stand reasonably restricted owing to them being in jail. It further explained that atopic dermatitis, a chronic eczematous skin disease, is a condition where the skin is dry and causes ruptures in acute phases. Doctors thus prescribe patients suffering from the disease to wear loose cotton dresses.
“Therefore, the claim of the petitioner that jeans makes him feel more comfortable is totally baseless and unfounded,” she concluded, dismissing the petition.