Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and guidance of Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation Shri Amit Shah the Ministry of Home Affairs has been taking various steps to address the issue of undertrials in prisons from time to time. These include insertion of Section 436A in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), insertion of a new chapter XXIA ‘Plea Bargaining’ in the CrPC etc. Free legal aid is being provided to poor prisoners through Legal Services Authority at various level.
Further to ensure that the benefits of the Budget are extended across all intended sections of the society, one of the priorities of the Budget, namely the Guiding ‘Saptarishis’ is Reaching the Last Mile. Under this, one of the announcements is ‘Support for Poor Prisoners’. It envisages provision of required financial support to poor persons who are in prisons and unable to afford the penalty or the bail amount. This will enable poor prisoners, majority of whom belong to socially disadvantaged or marginalized groups with lower education and income level, to get out of prison.
The broad contours of the scheme have been finalised in consultation with concerned stakeholders under which Government of India will provide financial support to States in order to extend relief to those poor prisoners who are unable to avail bail or get released from prisons due to non-payment of fine, on account of financial constraints.
To further strengthen the process, technology driven solutions will be put in place to ensure that benefits reach the poor prisoners; reinforcing the E-prisons platform; strengthening of District Legal Services Authority and sensitization and capacity building of stakeholders to ensure that quality legal aid is made available to needy poor prisoners, etc.
Prisons are an important part of the Criminal Justice System, and play a significant role in upholding the rule of law. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been sharing important guidelines with State Governments through various advisories issued from time to time. MHA has also been providing financial support to the State Governments for enhancing and modernizing the security infrastructure in prisons.