The Union government will bring a Model Prisons Act by amending the British-era law in the next six months for which detailed discussions are underway with state governments, Home Minister Amit Shah said here on Sunday.
He also urged all the state governments to immediately accept the Model Prison Manual introduced by the Central government in 2016 with “a need to reassess our views regarding prisons” and carry forward prison reforms.
So far, only 11 states and Union Territories have adopted the Manual, he said addressing a gathering at the inauguration of the 6th All India Prison Duty Meet.
“After the prison manual, we are now going to bring the Model Prisons Act, which will bring about necessary changes in the law in force since the British era. Right now, we are holding extensive discussions with states and I am sure that it will be brought within the next six months,” Shah said.
He said the Model Prisons Act will be brought to make jails in the country state-of-the-art. Shah stressed the need to address the issue of overcrowding in prisons, saying the jail administration cannot be improved without resolving these issues. Furthermore, the Home Minister requested states to provide video conferencing facilities with the court in every district jail.
Shah identified the need to make arrangements “to keep prisoners who spread the propaganda of radicalisation and narcotics separate”. The new jail manual also deals with information on controlling gangs inside the jail.
“I believe the prison administration is a very important wing of internal security. We cannot ignore jail administration. Society’s perception of jails needs to be changed. Not all convicts lodged in jail are criminals by nature,” the home minister said.
He said the process of punishment is also very important, but it is also the responsibility of the jail administration to find ways to rehabilitate prisoners in society.
Shah said the rehabilitation of 90 per cent of prisoners who are sentenced by law in society is very important, not only from a human point of view but also from a law and order point of view.
Shah added that, the area of prison has been neglected in India and jail is “a neglected field.” He said in many states the jails built by the British remain the same.
“Today, along with modernising jails, it is very important to equip them with technology, to make them agile from the point of view of security and to make arrangements for the good living of the prisoners,” he said.
Several dignitaries including Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Union Home Secretary and Director General of Bureau of Police Research and Development were present at the event.