Murder convicts in Punjab and Haryana are not entitled to B-class facilities in jails, while Punjab has also decided to deny such facilities to prisoners involved in "any kind of acid attack".
This decision was conveyed to the Punjab and Haryana high court through affidavits filed on behalf of the states during resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the withdrawal of B-class facilities to convicts in murder cases.
In pursuance to the directions issued by a division bench of the high court on July 10, the Haryana jails department had issued instructions to the director general of prisons (DGP), on August 1 that murder convicts shall not be entitled to B-class facilities.
The circular clarified that the facilities shall also now not be available to prisoners involved in (i) Lurking house trespass or house breaking where death or grievous hurt is caused (under Sections 406 or 459 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC); (ii) offences against the state punishable under Section 121 to 124-A IPC; (iii) Immoral trafficking in minors (sections 3, 4, 5 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act; (iv) Offences under sections 17 (c) or 18 (b) of Narcotic Drugs and Psychiatric Substances Act.
An additional affidavit has been filed by Jagjit Singh, additional inspector general of prisons, Haryana, stating that as per instructions issued by the additional chief secretary vide a letter dated August 1, facilities provided to convicts in murder cases had been withdrawn.
The additional advocate general, Punjab, produced a August 6 communication of the jails department, Punjab, to the ADGP (prisons), conveying that the state government had decided that prisoners involved in "murder/culpable homicide/causing death by negligence or rash act" shall not be entitled to B-class facilities. The Punjab government has also deprived prisoners involved in "any kind of acid attack on the body of a person" from B-class facilities in jails. Besides, those involved in offences under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act have also been disentitled from B-class facilities.
The inmate gets facilities of bedding, separately cooked food or home-cooked food, newspapers and magazines, exemption from hard jobs, can wear clothes other than prisoner's uniform, and can have more visitors as compared to ordinary prisoners.
Chandigarh seeks more time
The standing counsel for UT Chandigarh stated before the HC that the matter was being considered by its home department. The HC, therefore, granted two more weeks to the Chandigarh administration for compliance of its order dated July 10. The PIL shall now be listed for compliance only for the UT on August 30.
Convicts challenge decision
Five inmates of the Gurgaon jail, undergoing life imprisonment for murder, moved an application for intervention in the PIL. They stated that the right to better-class facilities available to them under provisions of the Punjab Jails Manual could not be taken away by the issuance of any circular or notification by the state government.