New Punjab Prison Rules to focus on safe, secure custody of inmates
The Punjab cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to Punjab Prison Rules, 2021, under the Prison Act 1894, thus superseding the archaic and outdated jails manual.
The cabinet noted that the provisions of the Punjab Jail Manual, 1996, had become archaic with the passage of time and there was imminent need to update it in the changed scenario of modernisation, prison computerisation and latest laws. The virtual meeting was chaired by chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh.
A spokesperson of the chief minister’s office said the Punjab Jail Manual, 1996, primarily focused more on safe and secure custody of prisoners. The newly drafted Punjab Prison Rules, 2021, lay emphasis not only on safe and secure custody of prisoners but also on other aspects, such as welfare, corrections and aftercare, which have emerged as equally important in modern times.
“In order to ensure effective surveillance, safe custody and prevention of escapes, new security parameters have been introduced in the new rules. For lodging of high risk prisoners such as gangsters, drug offenders, terrorists, radicals, etc, ‘prisons within prisons’ - high security enclosures/zones – have been created,” the spokesperson said. The infrastructural requirements of these enclosures have been defined. These shall be equipped with wireless sets, alarm system, dedicated power back up, hand-held and doorframe metal detectors, video-conferencing facilities, closed-circuit TV cameras, X-ray baggage machines, body scanners, and any other modern electronic security devices. A multi-tier security grid has also been placed for better monitoring on the high security zones, according to an official release.
For reducing recidivism, ensuring successful rehabilitation and social reintegration of released convict prisoners, a framework for aftercare assistance has been incorporated in the new rules. This will cover many aspects, such as assistance in employment/entrepreneurship, medical treatment, marriage, renting a house, etc.
Similarly, various other provisions incorporating use of technology for a more efficient and effective prison administration have been added. On the hardware side, provisions for use of modern security equipment and surveillance gadgets have been made, including artificial intelligence enabled CCTVs, motion sensors, mobile jammers, siren/alarm system, body scanners, X-ray baggage scanners, touch screen kiosks for inmate details, etc.
On the software side, provisions for deployment of Prison Management Information System, trial through video conferencing, e-wallet, e-office, e-procurement, Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS), etc. have been made.
A new provision for a grievance redressal system in every prison, which will provide every inmate the legitimate opportunity to voice his/her grievances, has been incorporated in the new rules. Under this system, compliant boxes shall be installed at different locations in the prison. A provision for electronic communication such as video conferencing has been made so that the inmates can hold face to face interviews with family/friends or legal counsel, according to the spokesperson.
The cabinet also gave post-facto approval for the procurement of hospital material and consumables worth ₹152.56 crore by the departments of health and family welfare, medical education and research and police for effective management of Covid-19.