Women convicts aged 55 years and above and male convicts of 60 years or more, who have completed half of their sentence, and a few other categories of prisoners in jails across the country will be released under an amnesty scheme during the year-long celebrations to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi beginning October 2. The decision was taken today at a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here. However, prisoners convicted for crimes such as dowry death, rape, human trafficking and under POTA, UAPA, TADA, money laundering law and FEMA, among others, will not be released under the scheme.
The prisoners will be considered for special remission and released in three phases. In the first phase, the prisoners will be released on October 2, in the second phase on April 10 next year, the anniversary of Champaran satyagrah, and in the third phase on October 2, 2019.
Women convicts of 55 years of age and above, transgender convicts of 55 years of age or more and male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed half of their actual sentence period will be set free, an official statement said. Physically challenged/disabled convicts with 70 per cent disability and more, who have completed half of their jail term, terminally ill convicts and prisoners who have completed two-thirds of their actual sentence period will also be released.
The special remission will not be given to prisoners who have been convicted for an offence for which they have been sentenced to death or in case of death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment. Convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes such as dowry death, rape, human trafficking, besides those convicted under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, would also not get benefit under the scheme.
Those convicted under the money laundering law, Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), and Prevention of Corruption Act, among others, would also not be released. The Ministry of Home Affairs will issue advisories to all states and Union territories asking them to process the cases of eligible prisoners, the statement said.
The state governments and UT administrations will be advised to constitute a committee to examine the cases. The state governments will place the recommendations of the committee before the governors for consideration and approval under Article 161 of the Constitution. After the approval, the prisoners will be released on the designated dates.
“The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is a significant occasion and giving special remission to prisoners on this important occasion is considered desirable and befitting the commemoration and would be a homage to the father of nation and the humanitarian values Mahatma Gandhi stood for,” the statement said.