With new prison manual out, state mulls amendments to its prison rules
With the jailbreak of eight undertrial SIMI operatives from a high-security Bhopal prison serving as a rude awakening for Madhya Pradesh, the state has decided to send the Model Prison Manual, 2016 and the MP Prison Rules, 1968 to experts for suggestions of amendments in the latter.bhopal Updated: Nov 09, 2016 12:36 IST
With the jailbreak of eight undertrial SIMI operatives from a high-security Bhopal prison serving as a rude awakening for Madhya Pradesh, the state has decided to send the Model Prison Manual, 2016 and the MP Prison Rules, 1968 to experts for suggestions of amendments in the latter.
The rule books will be sent to the Bhopal-based Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis, an autonomous Institution of the state government. After the institute suggests amendments in the MP Prison Rules, the same will be sent by the jail department to the government for approval.
“We are soon sending the MP Prison Rules 1968 and Model Prison Manual 2016 to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance. There, experts will suggest changes after going through the latest Prison Manual and send a report to us. Then the suggestions made by the four-member committee — currently conducting a security audit of central jails — and the report of this institute will be sent to the state government for approval,” jail department principal secretary Vinod Semwal told HT
Asked whether the changes in the MP Prison Rules 1968 required an amendment in the Prison Act, 1894, Semwal said it depends on the changes suggested.
“If there is no scope for the suggested amendments in the original Act, then we will have to amend the Prison Act to bring those amendments in the rules,” he said.
Madhya Pradesh has over 38,000 jail inmates in its 122 jails, against a capacity of 27,000. Over 21,300 of them are under-trials.
The state’s 122 jails comprise 11 central jails, 39 district jails and 72 sub-jails. They have been set up under the Prison Act, 1894 and the Prisoners Act, 1900 and are governed by the MP Prisons Rules, 1968. The Model Prison Manual introduced by the Centre in December 2003 was partially adopted by the state in February 2008.
However, a new manual was approved by the Union home ministry in January 2016. Comprising 32 chapters, the focus is on bringing basic uniformity in laws, rules and regulations governing the administration of prisons and the management of prisoners.
The new manual also emphasises the use of technology wherever possible, including introduction of a personal information system for recording information relating to inmates, maintaining registers required by the prison authorities in an electronic form and installation of CCTV cameras in work sheds, kitchens, high security enclosures, main gate etc of prisons to prevent violation of human rights.
WHAT THE NEW PRISON MANUAL SAYS
Informal inspections to be carried out by senior prison officers.
Formal inspection to be carried out by a designated inspector officer.
Formal inspection to cover aspects like mess facilities, medical facilities, hygiene and high security enclosures to help authorities identify deficiencies and loopholes in jail management.
Special committees known as discharged prisoners’ after-care and rehabilitation committees should be set up at the district- or state-level for planning and devising appropriate mechanisms for rehabilitation and after-care assistance to prisoners.
More comprehensive and relevant security classification for high-risk offenders.
Physical and mental health reports to certify that the prisoner is physically and mentally fit.
A new chapter on legal aid has been incorporated, with additions that include appointment of jail-visiting advocates, setting up of a legal aid clinic in every prison, legal literacy classes in prisons, constitution of undertrial review committee and provisions to ensure legal services for undertrial prisoners who have undergone half of the maximum sentence for that offence.