Today: Jun 18, 2024

States asked to release prisoners who have completed their sentence: MoS Home

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New Delhi: The Centre has asked state governments to release prisoners who have completed their terms but are behind bars due to non-payment of fine, Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar said in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The minister was responding to a question by Congress member Imran Pratapgarhi, who raised the issue of release of convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.

“We have created a special scheme for August 15, 2022, January 26, 2023 and August 15, 2023, under which states have been asked to release such prisoners who are behind bars due to non-payment of fine,” Kumar said in response to a supplementary asked by Pratapgarhi.

The Congress member said the minister tabled an “irresponsible answer” to his question.

He said around 80 per cent of prisoners in India are under trial and asked what steps are being taken by the government to reduce this.

The minister said the Congress member should collect information about the matter first.

As per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the responsibility of administration and management of prison lies with the state and the Centre only supports it.

“Judiciary is independent in our country, and only courts have the right to decide the matter of undertrials,” the minister said.

While asking for a second supplementary, Pratapgarhi said the minister’s reply is “full of arrogance”.

In his second supplementary to the question, the Congress leader referred to President Droupadi Murmu’s Constitution Day speech, in which she suggested decongesting jails by helping poor people languishing there for years for petty crimes.

“Are we moving towards development? What is the need to set up more jails? We need to reduce their numbers,” Murmu had said in her valedictory address at the Constitution Day celebrations organised by the Supreme Court.

Thereafter, Pratapgarhi asked the minister whether the release of the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case is a state matter or the Home Ministry too is looking into it.

Is his reply, Kumar only mentioned advisories issued to states for the release of prisoners who have completed their punishment period and asked for putting up separate notices on matters related to pardon of punishment.

AAP’s Raghav Chadha asked about the status of the promise made by the prime minister on the eve of Gurupurab for release of Sikh prisoners.

In his response, Kumar said state governments have been asked to send their proposals and a decision would be taken after that.