Making an amendment to its prison policy, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to consider the premature release of life-term prisoners even below 60 years of age.
Under the new policy, the state government would consider the release of an inmate sentenced to life imprisonment for an offence like murder only after he has completed a jail term of 16 years without remission or 20 years with remission.
The UP Director General, Prison, Anand Kumar, said the new policy would benefit a large number of convicts facing life term and that it would help decongest crowded jails across the state.
The state government’s previous prison policy had stipulated that prisoners facing life term must attain the age of 60 years before they could be considered for premature release. This was changed by the government last month.
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The convicted prisoners in UP are kept in central jails located in Prayagraj, Varanasi, Fatehgarh, Etawah, Bareilly and Agra. The district jails in the state, numbering 63, are also used to house convicted prisoners, said a senior jail official. The inmates with good records inside the prisons are sent to Model Jail in Lucknow. A woman central jail has also been opened in Bareilly.
Currently, there are around 1.14 lakh inmates in UP prisons against their collective capacity of 70,000, the jail official said. There are nearly 30,000 convicted prisoners, of whom about 12,000 have been facing life term.
In the first week of June, the UP Prisons Administration & Reform Services Department sent a letter to all the district and central jails, asking them to provide the details of inmates who would fall under the category of the new policy. Some jail authorities have sent such details to the Prison headquarters in Lucknow.
The state government had prepared a premature release policy for life-term prisoners in 2018, which did not set any age bar for them. In 2021, the government amended it to stipulate that a life-term convict would be eligible for premature release only after he attains the age of 60 years. This age bar has now been removed.
Like its 2018 and 2021 prison policies, the UP government’s amended policy will also be applicable to those life-term murder convicts who have completed a jail term of 16 years without remission or 20 years with remission. Similarly, the new policy also makes it mandatory that the cases against such prisoners should not fall under the category of heinous crimes like terror and waging war against the state. The investigation of these cases should not be done by central agencies and the convicts should not have been booked under a central law. The inmates convicted for life term by a court of other state will also not be covered by the new policy.
Like the earlier policies, in the new policy too the government has decided to consider the release of inmates sentenced to life for offences such as kidnapping for murder, kidnapping in order to subject person to grievous hurt and slavery, selling and purchase of minor for purpose of prostitution, rape and others only after convicts have served the jail term for 20 years without remission and 25 years with remission. The convicts, sentenced to life for mass murder charge, would be released after he has served the jail term for 25 years without remission and 30 years with remission.
In the amended policy, the state government has also put a clause that the Release Proposal Committee, which will decide on the premature release of life-term convicts, may cancel the release of an inmate if it is found to cause any law and order problem.
Earlier, life-term convicts could be prematurely released on Republic Day, Women’s Day, World Health Day, Labour Day, World Yoga Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti. In the new policy, besides these seven days, the government has also added three more occasions – Teachers Day, International Human Rights Day and International Day for Tolerance.