Buckling under pressure from Left party cadres, Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Thursday announced that a ban on smoking in jails would be lifted soon.
"We will very soon lift the present smoking ban in jails," Balakrishnan said in reply to a question in the state assembly.
The ban was imposed in 2003 following a high court order by the then Oommen Chandy government.
Ever since the Left assumed power in May last year the government was under pressure from party cadres to lift the ban. Kerala has 22 jails with about 6,504 inmates, and many of them are Left sympathisers.
According to reports, Balakrishnan made the announcement after getting a green signal from the law department.
However, a very strong anti-smoking lobby in the state could take up lifting of the ban in court.