The Rajasthan government has amended Rajasthan Prison Rules to do away with caste-based assignment of labour. As per a notification issued earlier this month, the state government made three amendments to these rules. The amendments come after Rajasthan High Court took suo motu cognizance of a media report on caste practices prevalent in prisons.
Earlier, Rule 67 on “Cooking of Food” under Section 2 had said “any Brahmin or sufficiently high caste Hindu prisoner from this class is eligible for appointment as cook”. Now, this line is among those removed. A new line has been included to Rule 67: “No inmate shall be selected for cooking on the basis of his caste or religion.”
Similarly, part of a section dealing with ‘Restriction on the employment of convicts as tradesman’ had earlier read that “the barber shall be a non-habitual prisoner. Sweepers shall be chosen from among those who, by the custom of the district in which they reside or on account of their having adopted the profession, perform sweeper’s work, when free. Any-one else may also volunteer to do this work, in no case, however shall a person, who is not a profession sweeper, be compelled to do the work”. This paragraph has now been replaced to state: “No tradesman shall be chosen on the basis of his caste or religion.” Clause (d) of Rule 27 of Section 1, Part 15, which included the definition of a habitual offender as “any member of a criminal tribe subject to the discretion of the Government”, has also been deleted.
The high court had taken cognizance of a report by The Wire on caste practices prevalent in prisons across different states in India.