The Union Home Ministry on Monday issued a set of guidelines to the States and the Union Territories on the grant of special remission to prisoners to commemorate the 75th year of Independence.
As part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, the special remission would be granted to a certain category of prisoners, and they would be released in three phases — August 15, 2022, January 26, 2023 and August 15, 2023.
The prisoners who would qualify for premature release under the scheme are women and transgender convicts of 50 years of age and male convicts of 60 years and above who have completed 50% of their total sentence period without counting the period of general remission earned.
Convicts with disabilities
Among others eligible for remission are physically challenged/disabled convicts with 70% disability and more who have completed 50% of their total sentence period, terminally ill convicts, convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds (66%) of their total sentence period and poor or indigent prisoners who have completed their sentence but are still in jail due to non-payment of fine imposed on them by waiving off the fine.
The Ministry said that persons who committed an offence at a young age (18-21 years of age) and with no other criminal involvement or case against them and who have completed 50% of their sentence period would also be eligible for the remission. The age of the convicts should be determined on the basis of the matriculation or birth certificate. In the absence of both, the age given in the judgment of the trial court could be taken into consideration.
Persons convicted with death sentence or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment or persons convicted for an offence for which punishment of death has been specified as one of the punishments would not be eligible for the grant of special remission, the Ministry said.
Persons convicted with sentence of life imprisonment, convicts involved in terrorist activities or persons convicted under Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act, 1985, Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2002, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Explosives Act, 1908, National Security Act, 1982, Official Secrets Act, 1923, and Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016, would also not be eligible.
The Ministry laid down that persons convicted for dowry death, counterfeiting currency notes, offence of rape & human trafficking, offences under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, Immoral Trafficking Act, 1956, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, Black Money (Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition and Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005, Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, offences against the State (Chapter-VI of IPC) and any other law which the State governments or the Union Territory administrations consider appropriate to exclude would not qualify for the special remission.
The States and the Union Territories were told to constitute a State Level Screening Committee comprising the Home Secretary, Law Secretary, Director/Inspector-General of Prisons to examine the cases of eligible persons.