The Bihar government has decided to release certain categories of prisoners, who have served half their jail terms, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the country's independence, a state minister said on Saturday.
A screening committee of the state home department has been instructed to review records of prisoners and identify eligible ones to grant the special remission, Bihar Law Minister Pramod Kumar told PTI.
The decision to this effect was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday. The proposal to grant special remission to certain categories of prisoners was placed before the state cabinet by the law department.
It's a major decision taken by the state government. Certain categories of prisoners, who have served half their jail terms, will be released as advised by the central government. The state-level screening committee of the home department has been instructed to review records of inmates and identify eligible ones languishing in different prisons in Bihar, the minister told PTI. The panel has received some recommendations from several prison authorities and will examine these, Kumar said.
The committee will ensure that notorious criminals, repeat offenders and those who fall in prohibited categories are not considered for the special remission, he said.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked all state governments and Union Territories to give special remission to certain categories of prisoners and release them on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the country's independence being celebrated as the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'.
As advised by the Centre, the committee's recommendations will be placed before a competent authority for consideration and approval, Kumar said.
According to the advisory issued to all states and Union Territories, women and transgender convicts above 50 years with overall good conduct, especially those not punished in the last three years and have completed half their sentence, may be released in three phases – this Independence Day (August 15), Republic Day 2023 and the next year's Independence Day, he said.
The same rules apply for male convicts, except that their age limit has been fixed at 60 years and above, the minister said. Among others who can be pardoned under the special scheme are disabled convicts with 70 per cent or more disability besides terminally ill inmates and prisoners who have completed 66 per cent of their total sentence, he clarified.
As per the MHA advisory, beneficiaries of the scheme also include "poor or indigent prisoners who have completed their sentence but are still in jail due to non-payment of fine imposed, and persons who committed an offence when aged 18 to 21 years and with no other criminal involvement and have completed 50 per cent of their sentence", the minister said.
The proof of age of convicts should be determined as per matriculation certificate or birth certificate. In the absence of both, age given in the judgment of the trial court may be taken, the advisory said.The remission of sentences is, however, not applicable to persons convicted with a death sentence or commuted to life imprisonment, convicted under laws related to terrorist or anti-national activities, dowry deaths, the printing of fake notes, rape, human trafficking, POCSO, economic offences, drug trafficking, illegal arms trade, among others.