Delhi LG approves prison rules amendment, paves way for premature release of elderly convicts

Amendment will not be applicable to convicts serving life or death sentence or those convicted under treason, terrorism, POCSO charges, officials say

Representative image of judge's gavel (photo: IANS)
Representative image of judge's gavel (photo: IANS)


Delhi lieutenant governor V.K. Saxena has approved a draft notification for amendment in the Delhi Prison Rules 2018, paving the way for the premature release of infirm prisoners aged over 70, who have completed half their sentences, Raj Niwas officials said on Thursday.

The amendment will, however, not be applicable to convicts serving life or death sentences or those convicted under treason, terrorism, or Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act charges, they said.

The premature release of infirm elderly prisoners will also help decongest Delhi's "overcrowded" jails such as as Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini, which are altogether housing over 20,000 inmates against their total capacity of only 10,026, the officials said.

An evaluation committee will be formed to assess if a prisoner will be eligible for release. All eligible cases recommended by this committee will be submitted to the LG for approval of remittance of remaining sentence for premature release, they said.

The prison rules amendment is being made in compliance of a Delhi High Court order, passed while hearing a writ petition that sought the premature release of infirm prisoners based on reports of All India Committee on Jail Reforms (1982-83 Mulla Committee) and model Prison Rules 2003.

As per the amendment, rule 1246-A has been inserted in the Delhi Prison Rules 2018, as proposed by the prison department and concurred by the home and the law department, they said.

Presently, as per the Rule 1251 of Delhi Prison Rules 2018, only life convicts who have spent 14 years of their total sentence are pre-maturely released on the recommendations of the Sentence Review Board.

With the latest amendment in the prison rules, incapacitated convict -- those aged 70 years and above and unable to perform their own daily tasks -- could be released prematurely on the recommendations of a review committee set up for this purpose, they said.

The prisoners to be released under the amended rule will have to be certified "incapacitated convicts" by a medical board. The Evaluation Committee will evaluate the medical condition of the convict on the basis of certification of medical board, the officials said.

The Evaluation Committee will comprise: deputy inspector general (prisons), superintendent of the jail concerned as member secretary, resident medical officer of the jail and two specialist doctors from any government hospital to be nominated by director general (prison) as members.

Further, a social investigation report including feedback from the victim(s) of the crime involving the convict, too will have to be submitted to the committee while deciding the remittance, they said.

The DG (Prisons) may also take opinion of any medical authority like AIIMS as it deems fit in this regard. The Evaluation Committee may also recommend whether convict is fit for premature release under this rule, they added.

This move will cover prisoners who are undergoing either rigorous or simple imprisonment for a fixed term of sentence and their appeals against the convictions have been decided by the appellate courts.

However, these rules shall not be applicable to any incapacitated convict or otherwise who has been sentenced to death or is a life convict or prisoner convicted under offences under NDPS Act, 1985, POCSO Act, 2012, Negotiable Instrument Act 1881, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985, or Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 or any offences relating to terrorism or cases investigated by the National Investigation Agency.

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