End caste, religion-based discrimination in prisons: Centre

States and UTs told to remove discriminatory provisions in Prison Manuals 

February 29, 2024 01:12 pm | Updated March 01, 2024 02:46 am IST - CHENNAI

Representational image of a view of Central Prison in Vijayapura. The Ministry of Home Affairs said it had come to notice that the Jail Manuals of some States provided for segregation of prisoners on the basis of their caste and religion

Representational image of a view of Central Prison in Vijayapura. The Ministry of Home Affairs said it had come to notice that the Jail Manuals of some States provided for segregation of prisoners on the basis of their caste and religion | Photo Credit: Sharath Srivatsa

The Union government has taken a serious view of some States discriminating prisoners on the basis of their caste and religion and assigning them work accordingly. Saying that it was unconstitutional, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wrote to Chief Secretaries of all States/Union Territories urging them to ensure that their Jail Manuals did not contain any discriminatory provisions.

In a communication issued a couple of days ago, the Ministry said it had come to notice that the Jail Manuals of some States provided for segregation of prisoners on the basis of their caste and religion and they were being assigned work in the prisons accordingly.

No special treatment 

The Constitution of India prohibited any kind of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, place of birth etc. The Model Prison Manual, 2016, prepared by the MHA and circulated to all States/UTs in May 2016 explicitly prohibited caste and religion-based discrimination of prisoners in management of kitchen or cooking of food on caste or religious basis. 

“The manual also provides that any special treatment to a group of prisoners belonging to a particular caste or religion is strictly prohibited. It further provides that no classification of prisoners shall be allowed on grounds of socio-economic status, caste or class… In case any such provision exists, immediate steps must be taken to amend/remove the discriminatory provision from the Manual/Act. It is reiterated that there should be no caste-based assignment of duties or work in the prisons,” the MHA said.

Healthcare provisions

Stating that medical care of prisoners was one of the significant concerns of prison management, the MHA said it had been sending advisories from time to time to ensure that due importance was given to the physical and mental well-being of inmates. 

Going by the provisions of the Model Prison Manual, 2016, periodic health check-up of prisoners should be conducted on a regular basis. Besides, health check-up or screening of prisoners for infectious diseases including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis should be done. A special health screening camp for women and transgender prisoners was also among the priorities. 

Data relating to the health-check camps should be updated on the e-Prisons portal implemented as part of the e-prisons project to create end-to-end Information Technology solution for automation of prison operations. The MHA also stressed on digitisation and availability of prisoner records on an electronic platform accessible to designated authorities enabling them to have direct access to information related to the prisoners.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.