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88 years on, jail manual ‘corrected’

Beur Central Jail. Telegraph picture

Patna, Dec. 11: The state cabinet today approved the Bihar Prison Manual, 2012 that will come into effect from tomorrow.

“The Bihar Prison Manual, 2012 is not revision of the existing jail manual but it is entirely a new manual,” said inspector-general (IG) (prisons) Anand Kishor. He said the main focus of the new prison manual was to develop jails as correctional centres.

“The prisons of the state will no longer be ‘yatna grih’ (torture homes) for suspected offenders of crime. Rather, they will be treated as sudhar grih (centres to correct them) and enable them to become responsible members of the society,” Kishor said. The existing jail manual was modified during the British rule way back in1924. The new manual was drafted after a gap of almost 88 years and it took more than one-and-a-half years to give it a final shape. The proposal was earlier cleared by a high-level committee chaired by the chief secretary.

The IG (prisons) said there were certain provisions in the manual, which have been incorporated from the jail manual of different states. “Our motto is to make it the country’s best manual so far as welfare of jail inmates is concerned,” he added. According to the new manual, there would be a dedicated deputy inspector-general (DIG, correctional services) to look after the welfare of the prisoners lodged in 56 jails, including eight central jails, 32 district jails and 16 sub-divisional jails, across the state. Besides, a separate post of a DIG (administration) has been created to look after the administrative affairs.”

“In no case the posts of the two DIGs, which have been created for the first time, will be filled up with the officers of the Indian Police Service. They will be the officers of state prison services,” clarified Kishor.

According to the new provision, only convicts sentenced to serve a term of over five years would be lodged in central jails. At present, convicts serving a term of three years are lodged in central jails. Similarly, convicts sentenced to undergo imprisonment of one to five years would be lodged in district jails and those awarded a term of one year would be lodged in sub-divisional jails.

At present, convicts sentenced a term of three years or less are lodged in district jails and those sentenced to undergo 14 days’ imprisonment are lodged in sub-divisional jails respectively.

The post of jailors has been redefined. While the jailors would be called deputy superintendents, assistant jailors would be known assistant superintendents. The new manual mandates separate wards for young offenders in every jail so that they cannot mingle with hardened criminals.

In addition, there would be canteens in every jail and the inmates would be able to get meals of their choice. The prisoners would avail the facility of getting money deposited from their relatives every month, to a certain limit, which they would spend on food. The canteens located inside the prison would be run by prisoners. Every prisoner would be provided smart cards to avail the canteen facilities so that records could be maintained properly. There is no provision of canteens for jail inmates in the existing manual, forcing prisoners to eat meals cooked in the jail kitchens.

In certain cases, the prisoners are allowed to get food from their homes but for that, the prisoners are required to get permission from the competent authority. For the first time, the system of history ticket of prisoners is being adopted. Under the scheme, the prisoners would be issued health cards by respective medical officers. The health cards would have detailed information about the prisoners’ health.

The health of every prisoner would be examined by the medical officer in the presence of the jail superintendent within 24 hours of his admission and the requisite forms would be filled up immediately. The step assumes significance in the wake of numerous complaints by prisoners about poor health services.

To ensure sanitation and cleanliness, the process of food preparation in kitchens and distribution of food would be monitored through closed-circuit cameras. “This is being done to improve the quality of food served to the prisoners,” Kishor added. The concept of wearing clothes provided by the jail administration has been removed in the new prison manual. The medical officers have been empowered to requisition any medical experts of the government hospitals for the treatment of prisoners suffering from chronic diseases. Holding medical camps inside the jail from time to time for treatment of prisoners have been made mandatory. The district magistrates would have to hold bandi darbar after every two months to listen to the complaints of the prisoners. The proceedings of the bandi darbar would be recorded and assessed from time to time. There would be two complaint boxes installed, one each at the superintendent’s office and the second one at the district magistrate’s office. The provision of prison management system has been made for the first time. Under the PMS, the photographs of the prisoners would be stored and the admission registers computerised. The jail superintendents would have been entrusted with the task of taking photographs of all the inmates, their fingerprints and have their voices recorded for preparing a complete database of the prisoners. Every prisoner would be allotted a particular numeric code. Advanced speech recognition technology would be introduced for the first time. An emergency squad will also be constituted in jails to train inmates to face emergency. Advanced gadgets for security in and around the jails and other infrastructure like night-vision devices, central control room and video-conferencing system would also be implemented. IG (prisons) said all the vacant posts of assistant jailors and wardens would be filled up at the earliest.

“The staff selection commission, which has been entrusted with the task of appointment, has been issued directives to complete the process as soon as possible,” he added. He said that kiosks would be installed in jails to provide information to inmates about their court appearance dates sampling by touching a screen. A grievance redressal cell would also function in every jail,” he said.

Cabinet decisions

The state cabinet approved 35 decisions giving nod to the amendments in Bihar Eminent Sportsperson Appointment Rules 2012. According to the approved amendments, only those persons could be considered for appointment in government job hails from Bihar and has ranked in the national competition, Vijoy Prakash, principal secretary, planning and development, holding the charge of cabinet co-ordination department, told reporters here.

Even those persons would be considered for appoint- ment who have represented Bihar twice in any national sports competition, irrespective of the fact whether or not they have secured rankings, he added.

The cabinet approved Rs 222 crore for implementation of MNREGA scheme in different districts of the state during 2012-13, he said, adding that it also approved Rs 231.26 crore for construction of buildings for 163 higher secondary schools and to complete the ongoing construction of 383 higher secondary schools.

It also sanctioned Rs 8 crore to develop various tourist spots across the state. The funds would be made available to Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, said Prakash, before adding that the cabinet also gave its nod to nominate Justice T. Meena Kumari as the executive president of Bihar State Legal Services Authority.


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