The government has decided to allow thousands of prisoners who are serving sentences for committing non-heinous crimes to walk free. The decision was taken on Wednesday during the Cabinet meeting. It was decided that convicts serving sentences for non-heinous crimes will be freed in three phases. The first batch of the prisoners will be released on October 2 this year when the nation celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma Gandhi. The second and third batch of the prisoners will be released next year, first on April 10, coinciding the anniversary of the Champaram Satyagrah, and second on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti on October 2.
The government has set different criteria under which the eligible prisoners will be released. This mostly includes women, elderly, transgender and physically challenged inmates.
Women inmates who are above 55 years of age and have completed half of the period of their sentence will be released. The same criteria have been set for transgender prisoners. However, for male prisoners, the age limit is 60 years.
Also, prisoners with 70% of physical disability, but having completed half of the period of their punishment, will get relief. Convicts suffering from non-curable diseases will also be covered under this amnesty scheme.
“We will also consider the case of terminally ill convicts and convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds of their actual sentence period,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on Wednesday after the Cabinet’s nod to the proposal.
However, inmates serving sentences for heinous crimes like dowry death, rape and human trafficking among others will not be given any kind of relief. Death row convicts and also those prisoners whose death sentence was commuted to life term, will not be eligible for the release.
According to reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs will soon issue an advisory to the states and UTs to begin the process to release the eligible prisoners.