Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Friday said the Centre will commence the second phase of modernisation of prisons in the next financial year. The lack of funds for improving the condition of prisons, Singh said, is a problem faced both by the Centre and state governments. He also said the Centre will try to provide as much funding as it can for revamping prisons across the country.
While delivering the concluding address at a two-day seminar on prison reforms organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Singh said the Home Ministry had allocated approximately Rs 1,800 crore for the first phase of modernisation of prisons that went on till March 2009.
“Despite it being a state subject, we are trying to provide maximum funding from the Centre. I will discuss with the Finance Minister how funding can be increased in the next Five Year Plan,” Singh said.
“I have been to jail four or five times. I have had the opportunity to observe the conditions… they are really pitiable and miserable,” said Singh. He said jails are overcrowded but one way of minimising the problem would be to avoid prolonged incarceration of prisoners and grant bail to those who have spent half of their possible quantum of punishment in jail.
NHRC member Cyriac Joseph suggested, among other things, a special cadre of officers for prisons and correctional facilities, making details of every prisoners available on the prison website and a liberal approach in granting furlough and parole to inmates.
NHRC chairman K G Balakrishnan said the Prisons Act, 1894 was in need of being updated and modernised. He said the aim should be to keep no undertrial in jail for over a year and his appeal to be decided in three years.