More than 900 prisoners have been released from jails across India under an amnesty scheme announced as part of the year-long celebration to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi beginning October 2, the Home Ministry said Thursday.
Women convicts aged 55 years and above and male convicts of 60 years or more, who have served half of their sentence, and a few other categories of prisoners were eligible for the amnesty scheme announced by the Narendra Modi government.
In the week-long first phase of special remission to prisoners, the states and Union territories, after obtaining the approval of the competent authority in their jurisdictions, have released more than 900 prisoners, a home ministry statement said.
In the second and third phase, prisoners will be released on April 6, 2019 and October 2, 2019 respectively.
The following categories of prisoners are eligible for special remission: women convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed half of their actual sentence period, transgender convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have served half of their actual sentence period, male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.
Physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70 per cent disability and more who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period, terminally-ill convicts, convicted prisoners who have completed two-third (66 per cent) of their actual sentence period are also eligible under the scheme.
Special remission scheme is not available to prisoners who have been convicted for an offence for which the sentence awarded is death or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment, cases of convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes like dowry death, rape, human trafficking and convicted under POTA, UAPA, TADA, FICN, POCSO Act, Money Laundering, FEMA, NDPS, Prevention of Corruption Act, etc.
While releasing the prisoners, they will be gifted books relating to Mahatma Gandhi and will be provided suitable counselling.
As part of commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Modi, on July 18, decided that special remission to specific category of prisoners may be given and they may be released from prisons in three phases — on October 2, April 6, 2019, and October 2, 2019.
The states and UTs have been advised to hold week-long special functions in all prison premises based on the teachings of the Mahatma before the dates specified for release of prisoners.
The prisoners shall be taken to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi where they will garland it.