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Tihar jail removes age-old gender bar

Wed 03 Jan 2018, 09:34:14
After being pulled up for "gender discrimination", the Arvind Kejriwal government has assured the Delhi High Court that semi-open and open prison facilities at the Capital's Tihar jail will be extended to woman inmates too.

The announcement marks a huge victory for not only the female prisoners but also for Sunil Gupta, retired legal advisor of the prison, who moved court after his representatio forwarded by the jail administration to the Delhi government's home department was allegedly not acted upon for months.

Generally prisoners undergoing life imprisonment and who have a record of "good conduct" for at least 12 years are the ones eligible for semi-open and open prison facilities.

In semi-open system, prisoners are allowed to work within the jail premises from 8am to 8pm and return to the jail at night. Rules are more relaxed and in some cases they are allowed to stay in a flat instead of cells.

Open prison allows convicts to take up jobs outside the prison premises anywhere in Delhi to earn a livelihood. Those who successfully complete two years in semi-open jails become eligible for open jail facility.

The government had proposed semi-open and open jails in 2011 and 2014 respectively. But female prisoners were excluded and deprived without any reasonable



justification.

"It is most respectfully submitted that the respondent (government) is in complete agreement with the petitioner regarding the issues raised by him in the present petition," said an affidavit filed by Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra.

"The government undertakes to remove any gender-based classification at the time of carrying out amendments which are proposed to be made in the rules/guideline with regard to the thresholds a convict needs to meet in order to gain eligibility in semi-open prison/open prison and accordingly treat all the prisoners at par irrespective of their gender," the affidavit added.

After accepting the affidavit, a bench headed by acting chief justice Gita Mittal noted in the order recently: "It would appear, therefore that the government and jail authorities are rectifying the unfortunate discrimination in the current jail manual as well as the practice of excluding women from the benefit of open and semi-open prisons.

Completion of the jail manual and implementation of the discriminatory and beneficial provisions as proposed in the new jail manual would be a laudable step undertaken by the respondents." The court said the completion of the amendments and their implementation should be placed before it prior to the next date of hearing, March 5.

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