Pune: Centrally-Funded Scheme to Release Over 500 Prisoners in Maharashtra’s Jails

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Pune, 13th January 2024: In a significant move to alleviate the plight of undertrial prisoners (UTPs) and convicts facing financial constraints, the State Government, under a centrally-funded scheme, is set to release 574 individuals from 27 jails in Maharashtra. Additional Director General (Prisons) Amitabh Gupta announced this development on Friday, citing the initiative’s aim to assist poor prisoners unable to pay fines or secure bail due to economic challenges.

Gupta detailed the process, stating, “A four-member committee, comprising the district collector, jail superintendent, additional sessions judge, and district law officer, has identified 524 UTPs and 50 convicts eligible for release under the scheme. The State Prison Department, Pune, has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking funds amounting to Rs 21,88,66,000 to facilitate the release of these prisoners by covering fines and bail conditions.”

These inmates, despite being granted bail and pleading guilty in minor criminal cases, have remained incarcerated due to their inability to engage legal representation and meet bail requirements, given their impoverished economic circumstances.

The release process will be initiated through the district legal services authority once the funds are secured. The committee will review inmates based on priority, considering the urgent need to decongest jails. Currently, the state’s prisons house a total population of 42,000, and this scheme aims to reduce congestion in the days to come.

Gupta also revealed efforts to reframe the state policy on remission, with the potential to benefit at least 10,000 convicts if approved by the state home department. The reduction in congestion is expected to result from expedited trials for UTPs.

In addition, the government has accepted a proposal to construct new prisons in Palghar, Yerawada, Ahmednagar, Hingoli, Gondia, and Nanded. This move is intended to decongest heavily crowded jails in Yerawada, Arthur Road, Thane, Kalyan, and other locations, further addressing the issue of overcrowded prison facilities.