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Court Reserves Order till Monday on Kejriwal’s Plea for Consulting his Doctor

Court Reserves Order till Monday on Kejriwal’s Plea for Consulting his Doctor

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 19: Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court on Friday reserved its order till Monday on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea seeking regular medical check-ups after the Enforcement Directorate opposed the plea bringing in petitioner’s lawyer’s shocking comment that he had never seen such pettiness in his lifetime.

“How petty and political the ED can get. I will hover on the edge of death, just to get out on a medical bail? I have never seen this kind of pettiness in 75 years of independence,” lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi asked on behalf of Kejriwal. Opposing Mr Kejriwal’s plea that he be allowed 15 minutes of regular video conference with his regular doctor in view of his diabetic condition in the jail, the ED had told the court on Thursday that the Delhi chief minister was deliberately regularly consuming food with high sugar content like mangoes and sweets to increase his sugar level to get medical bail. The central agency’s statement triggered a row resulting in an exchange of words between AAP and BJP.

In Friday’s hearing Mr Kejriwal – who sought directions to jail officials to ensure supply of insulin – hit out at the ED for being “petty” and “politicising” his diet in jail instead of ensuring his health.

“Just because I am a prisoner… do I have no right to a dignified life and good health? Am I a gangster that I cannot even be allowed 15 minutes of video conference with my doctor?” he asked in court.

“ED claimed I want to increase my blood sugar levels to get bail. Am I going to risk paralysis to get bail? Whatever food I have is as per the diet chart prepared by my doctor prior to arrest,” senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Mr Kejriwal, told the court. In his submission Mr Kejriwal said he had been prescribed 50 units of insulin – 28 in the morning and 22 at night – since 2012, and that he had been “deprived of the life-saving drug for the last 29 days.”

“It is shocking that ED (believes) a person would deliberately cause such alarming hikes in sugar level and risk his life – for getting medical bail,” Mr Kejriwal argued in his submission, countering the ED’s rationale for the spike in his blood sugar level – that he has deliberately been eating sugary foods.

To this the ED replied: “Legal mulakaats (meetings) were abused earlier… there is a court order.” “The real reason for the continuous spike is the refusal of jail authorities to give insulin to the applicant, which is a life-saving drug…” the Chief Minister’s submission argued.

Mr Kejriwal’s submission offered a detailed rebuttal to the ED’s claims, including providing the names of the insulin injections and underlining his doctor’s recommendations, as well as listing when he had been supplied with mangoes (as part of the home-cooked meals allowed by the court).

“The allegation is I have been consuming mangoes (but) out of 48 meals from home, only three had mangoes. No mangoes were sent after April 8,” Mr Kejriwal’s lawyer said, arguing the ED had made mangoes “look like sugar bullets”. “(In reality) their sugar level is less than brown or white rice.”

On the ED’s claim that Mr Kejriwal regularly had white sugar in his tea, Mr Singhvi clarified the Chief Minister only used Sugar Free, a popular artificial sugar food item. Slamming the probe agency for being “ridiculous.” Mr Singhvi also accused it of misusing its “influence in the media.” “Just because you have a lot of influence in the media you are able to publish – that I am having aloo-poori – even though this meal was sent only once – during Navratri,” he told the court.

The ED opposed these submissions, claiming the food Mr Kejriwal was eating did not match the prescribed diet chart. It also argued the jail had sufficient medical facilities to care for Mr Kejriwal.

“Please see the diet prescribed to him. It has no reference to any sweet or fruits or sweet items. It appears to be a very regulated and restricted diet… Therefore it has direct relation to his submission – that he has an alarming rise in sugar level,” the ED’s lawyer, Zuhaib Hossain, told the court.

The ED’s legal team also argued that the presence of mangoes in Mr Kejriwal’s diet were contrary to what was allowed by the Chief Minister’s doctor. They also referred a report by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which said “food to be avoided are mangoes, bananas, chikoo, etc…”

Mr Singhvi, however, emphasised that the fruit had been sent only thrice. The last time was April 8 and the first blood sugar reading after that was three days later. “What is the relation…” he asked.

“He was given mangoes three times and aloo-poori once…” he said, answering “No” in response to a question by the bench about variations in Mr Kejriwal’s diet from what was allowed by the court.

As the hearing wound down, Mr Kejriwal pointed out that his medical condition is “bad and Monday will be late”, to which the court said, “File your replies by tomorrow. I’ll reserve orders on Monday.”

The Delhi minister and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi claimed a “conspiracy to kill” Mr Kejriwal. A furious Atishi hit back at the ED accusing the BJP “not (being) able to defeat Arvind Kejriwal in three elections (referring to the Delhi Assembly polls),” “… (so) a plan is being hatched to kill him by keeping him in jail. “Everyone knows Arvind Kejriwal is a patient of severe diabetes… he has been suffering for the past 30 years. To keep his sugar level under control he takes 54 units of insulin daily. “Ask any doctor… only someone who has severe diabetes takes this much insulin. That is why the court allowed Arvind Kejriwal to eat home-cooked food… prescribed by the doctor.”

Atishi also countered the ED’s claim Mr Kejriwal has been eating sweets inside the jail, saying, “This is a complete lie… Kejriwalji is allowed to tea and sweets with a sweetener (as) prescribed by the doctor. This is a low-calorie sweetener given to diabetics.”

She also slammed the ED over claims Mr Kejriwal was eating bananas to increase his blood sugar level, which reportedly fell to a dangerously low 46 Mg when he was first incarcerated. “I would like to say to the ED… talk to any diabetes doctor. Patients are told to keep banana and some kind of toffee…”

“If the ED read the court order, it is clearly written that when Kejriwalji is in ED custody, or jail, he must always have some kind of toffee and banana (with him),” she said, referring to a direction that the AAP leader be allowed home-cooked food, bottled drinking water, and a supply of toffees.

Meanwhile, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has asked the city’s top prison official to submit a report into the allegations that Mr Kejriwal was not being provided insulin in the Tihar jail.




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