Why are women prisoners in Tihar Jail being denied the benefit of semi-open and open prisons, the Delhi High Court asked the AAP government and the jail authorities. The high court sought responses from the Delhi government, Lieutenant Governor and Director General of Prisons on a PIL seeking direction to them to extend the benefit of semi-open prison and open prison to women. “Why are you denying this to women prisoners? This is very bad. What you are doing is a stereotypical approach. People should have option, why should you discriminate,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said and listed the matter for November 15.
The petition filed by advocate Sunil Gupta, former legal adviser of Tihar Jail, also sought quashing of the guidelines approved by the LG and other steps initiated to exclude female prisoners from the semi-open prisons and open prisons. The plea filed through advocate Amit Khemka sought setting up of special semi-open prison and open prison for women prisoners in Delhi Prisons in a time bound manner.
Semi-open prison or open prison allows convicts to work outside the premises of jail and earn livelihood and return to the jail in the evening. This concept is being adopted by the jail authorities across the country. The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with society and reduce their psychological pressure as they face lack of confidence in leading normal lives outside the jail.
The plea said the guidelines in selection criteria bars women prisoners from treatment of confinement in semi-open prison without any rationale or justification.
“The provision (in guidelines for treatment of convicts in Delhi Prisons) clearly demonstrates the fallacy as it treats ‘women convicts’ as being in the same category as that of ‘dangerous or habitual male prisoners’. There is virtually no justification for this inhuman, discriminatory, arbitrary and ridiculous categorization,” it said.
The plea alleged that the guidelines violated fundamental right of equality of women prisoners in confined in Dehi jails. The counsel also told the court that only Yerwada Jail in Maharashtra and another prison in Rajasthan extended the benefit of semi-open or open prisons to women prisoners.