NEW DELHI: India is set to have more open prisons as the Centre has “almost finalized” a national policy on the issue that will pave way for opening more such prisons across the country.
According to the national guidelines, which are under the final scrutiny of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the conduct of the prisoner will be crucial in deciding his/her fate. In order to get transferred to an open prison, an inmate must have spent five years in a closed jail and the eligibility for getting transferred to a semi-open prison would require an inmate to spend two years in a closed prison.
The inmates who will get preference for transfer to such prisons are pregnant women, persons with disabilities, women with small children, onetime offenders, accidental offenders, petty offenders and low-risk prisoners, sources said.
According to the policy draft, convicts in terror cases and cases involving heinous offences, such as murder and rape, will not be eligible for transfer. These guidelines, if approved will be applicable to all open institutions in the country. At present, eligibility criteria for open prisons vary in some states. There are 69 open prisons in the country.
For instance, Jessica Lal murder convict Siddharth Vashishta, alias Manu Sharma, gets to leave the Tihar prison complex every day and return in the evening. Recently released Sushil Sharma, convicted in the sensational Tandoor murder case, also got transferred to a semi-open prison in 2017.
At present, Rajasthan has 29 open jails — the highest in the country — followed by Maharashtra (13), Kerala and Tamil Nadu (3 each) and Gujarat & West Bengal (2 jails each). Eleven states have one open jail each