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On the Plate: Learn what Jail Prisoners really get to eat each day


Only West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir provide non-vegetarian food free.


In 2015, Government data shows that the Indian State spent Rs 52.42 on an average to provide the three daily meals which is prescribed in the diet scale of the prison manuals to each of the 4 lakh-plus prisoners in the country.

With exception of Northeastern and Southern States, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir, non-vegetarian food is not being provided free of cost to the prisoners.

Some States have allowed the prisoners to buy the non-veg food from the jail canteen on certain days of the year. None of the jails or their canteens sell biryani.

According to the data released by National Crime Records Bureau: Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat have spent least on the  prison food in 2015 — Rs 31.31, Rs 32.83, Rs 34.22 and Rs 35.38 respectively per prisoner per day for the breakfast, lunch and the dinner.

Nagaland has spent almost double the national average, at Rs 139.22 per prisoner per day. Jammu and Kashmir is next, providing Rs 110.33 per prisoner per day.

Model Prison Manual drafted by Home Ministry prescribes for the calorie intake which should be between 2,320 kcal and 2,730 kcal per day for male prisoners, and 1,900 kcal to 2,830 kcal/day for women prisoners. States also have the right to decide the menu in their prisons, provided that they adhere to the nutritional requirements that are laid down in Model Prison Manual.


According to the NCRB data, Food accounts for about 60% of the spending on prisoners. This also makes it one of the major expenses heads which is susceptible to cuts whenever spending is to be squeezed.


Every prisoner is allowed to receive amount of Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,200 per month from the family members which he can then spend in the jail canteen.

Some prisoners can even get the home-cooked food with permission of the Court. To prevent the instances of rich inmates smuggling in large containers of home-cooked food to be shared with the preferred fellow prisoners, certain jails have laid down the rules that put a daily ceiling of about 850 g of home-cooked food to be allowed inside the prison.

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