The advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to the states and union territories has laid down detailed eligibility criteria to be considered by a panel of senior officers, to extend the benefit of remission to prisoners of different categories.
The Union Government has asked the State governments to give special remission to prisoners and release them in three phases- August 15this year, January 26, 2023, and again on August 15 next year. This, the government says, is to celebrate the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ as a series of events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.
Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of independence and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.
The official journey of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav commenced on 12th March 2021 which started a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of independence and will end post a year on 15th August 2023. Following are the five themes of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The MHA, in its letter, to state governments and the Union Territories [UTs] has made it clear that the benefit of the special remission is restricted to certain categories of convicted prisoners who have consistently maintained overall good conduct, especially those with no punishment during the last three years. The MHA’s scheme will benefit the following categories of prisoners:
Women convicts of 50 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their total sentence period (without counting the period of general remission earned).
Transgender convicts of 50 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their total sentence period (without counting the period of general remission earned).
Male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their total sentence period (without counting the period of general remission earned).
Physically challenged/disabled convicts with 70% disability and more (duly certified by a Medical Board) who have completed 50% of their total sentence period (without counting the period of general remission earned).
Terminally ill convicts (duly certified by a Medical Board). Convicted prisoners who have completed two-third (66%) of their total sentence period (without counting the period of general remission earned).
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.
Persons who committed an offence at a young age i.e. between 18-21 years and with no other criminal involvement/case against them, who have completed 50% of their sentence period (without counting the period of general remission earned).
The proof of age of convicts, the MHA letter states, should be determined as per the matriculation certificate or birth certificate. In the absence of both, age given in judgement of the trial Court may be taken, it states.
However, the death convicts or those whose death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment or persons convicted for an offence for which punishment of death has been specified as one of the punishments, persons convicted with sentence of life imprisonment, convicts involved in terrorist activities will not be eligible for the special remission. Besides, the persons convicted for dowry death, fake Indian currency notes (FICN), human trafficking and child abuse will not be eligible for the remission. In addition, the persons convicted for the economic offences and under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS), will not be eligible for the remission, the letter adds.
The MHA has advised the states to constitute a State Level Screening Committee, comprising the following persons, to examine cases of eligible prisoners satisfying conditions prescribed by it: Additional Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary/Secretary In-charge of Home Department of State/UT as Chairperson; Additional Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary/Secretary In-charge of the Department of Law and Justice of State/UT as Member; and DG/IG Prisons of State/UT as Member Secretary.
The State Level Screening Committee will review the records of all prisoners and identify the eligible prisoners who satisfy the prescribed conditions for remission and make its recommendations to the State Government after examining each case in detail and taking into account all relevant factors, and take a considered decision to provide the benefit of special remission scheme to entitled convicts.
On receiving the recommendations of Screening Committee, the Stale Government will examine the recommendations thoroughly while ensuring that hardened criminals, repeat offenders and those who fall in prohibited categories are not considered for special remission with a view to ensure public peace and well-being of the society, The State Government will place its recommendations before the Governor for consideration and approval in exercise of powers under Article 161 of the Constitution.