FOLLOWING PROTESTS by prisoners in Agra and Bareilly central jails and Jhansi District Jail, Minister of State for Prisons Rampal Rajvanshi Tuesday visited convicts at the Agra prison, who have not been accepting jail food for the last 10 days.
The prisoners are demanding that those facing life imprisonment, and have already completed 14 years in jail, be released. While refusing jail food, the protesters are having food sent by their families.
Prisoners in Bareilly and Jhansi ended their protest Tuesday after officials assured them that their demand would be taken to the state government.
Rajvanshi reached Agra Central Jail, which has around 2,000 inmates, around 10 am and meet prisoners at an open ground. After returning from the jail, he said: “Prisoners want the government to issue an order for the release of convicts who are facing life imprisonment but have completed 14 years in jail. They also want prisoners, who are above 70 years of age, and have spent four or five years in jail, be released.”
Moreover, the inmates want women sentenced to life imprisonment to be released even if they had been jailed only for three or more years, he added.
“I told the prisoners that there is a Supreme Court ruling, which says that such inmates can be released after due permission from the presiding officer of the court that had sentenced them… I have promised the convicts that I would inform Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of their demands and appealed to them to end their protest. They said they would take a decision soon,” said Rajvanshi.
In 2012, the Supreme Court had said that life imprisonment implies a jail term for the convict’s entire life. It had clarified that under remission, the appropriate government cannot reduce the period of sentence less than 14 years for a life convict.
“It appears to us there is a misconception that a prisoner serving a life sentence has an indefeasible right to be released on completion of either 14 years or twenty years imprisonment. The prisoner has no such right… A convict undergoing life imprisonment is expected to remain in custody till the end of his life, subject to any remission granted by the appropriate government,” a bench of Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Madan B Lokur had said.
Following the protest by prisoners, officials are preparing a list of all convicted prisoners, including the nature of crime and the number of years they have been in jail, said an official.
When contacted, IG (Prisons) Gopal Lal Meena said: “We have speed up the process to prepare the files of convicts. These would be placed before a committee, which would take a decision on the release of prisoners.”