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Maha mulling mass remission for jailbirds

Jailbirds languishing in Maharashtra prisons may soon have a reason to cheer. The state government is considering giving remission to all the prisoners to mark 125 years of Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. Such a mass remission was last given two decades ago—when India celebrated 50 years of Independence in 1997.

The term of proposed remission will extend upto three months depending upon the term of sentence of the convicts. Ever since Independence, the Maharashtra government has only given remission on six occasions, including celebration of birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

While Babasaheb’s 125th birth anniversary was celebrated in 2016, the decision to give it away ahead of elections in two leading states—Uttar Pradesh and Punjab—and civic elections in Maharashtra may be seen as BJP trying to gain some political mileage amongst Dalit voters.

As per the proposed plan, prisoners undergoing imprisonment for more than five years and up to 20 years will be granted a one-time remission in sentence of upto three months. Prisoners undergoing imprisonment for more than one year and up to five years would get remission for two months, while those serving sentence from three months to upto one year would get remission upto 15 days and those sentenced for three months will get a remission of seven days. Those convicted under TADA, POTA or any law on engaging in war against the nation will not be considered under the proposed policy.

Sources claim that the proposal petition demanding remission came from an Amravati-based NGO Voluntary Action for Rehabilitation and Development. The initiative was also supported by the area MLA who wrote a few letters to the department recommending the same.

“The file is still at an initial stage. We may send it to the cabinet soon after discussions. It is still at conceptual state,” said a senior Home department officer.

As per section 432 of CrPC when any person has been sentenced to punishment for an offence, the appropriate government may, at any time, without conditions or upon any conditions which the person sentenced accepts, suspend the execution of his/her sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he has been sentenced.

In 2015 both Haryana and Punjab governments had announced remission of upto one year for the convicts to mark 50 years of state formation days.