It was launched with an objective of offering a sliver of freedom to convicts with a good conduct record. But around 10 months after it was set up, Tihar's semi-open jail houses only two convicts instead of the proposed 50 — all because of the strict admission criteria.
Now, in a move to increase the strength to a respectable figure, the prison authorities are considering throwing open the gates to convicts serving life sentences.
Confirming this, Tihar's law officer Sunil Gupta told HT, "The semi-open jail is meant for inmates serving five to 10 years term, not for those serving life sentences. But we have now requested the government to allow us to include life convicts as well, provided they have a track record of impeccable conduct and have completed 12 years of jail term already."
A convict lodged in the semi-open jail, located in sub-jail number five, cannot step out of the prison's 400-acre complex but can move about freely inside without armed escorts shadowing him, said a prison source.
For being considered for the facility, a convict must have utilised three furloughs and paroles and must not be charged for heinous offences such as rape, terrorism, sedition, kidnapping and narcotics smuggling, said the source.
"Because of the stringent admission criteria, we could not consider life-convicts," Gupta said. The Tihar authorities are awaiting the state government's nod for relaxing the stringent admission criteria.
The two current occupants — one convicted for attempt to murder and the other for cheating -- leave the jail around 9am and return around 6pm after performing their daily job as sales representatives at a prison outlet selling commodities manufactured by the convicts.
"The two occupants absolutely love the freedom they get and serve as a beacon for other inmates who aspire to get into the facility on account of good behaviour," said the source.