Chandigarh, February 24, 2021 (Yes Punjab News)
The Punjab government has decided to amend the Prison Act 1894 to strengthen security across the state’s prison and curb criminal acts by inmates through more stringent punishment for major offences like rioting, escape from prison, and other violations of prison discipline and rules.
A Bill to bring in the necessary changes will be introduced in the Budget Session of the Vidhan Sabha, scheduled to begin on March 1.
The decision was taken on Wednesday by the State Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. The council of ministers approved a proposal mooted by Jails Department to add new penal provisions in the said Act to strengthen security arrangements and prevent the use of mobile phones by the inmates, riots inside the jails, incidents of assault on the jail staff, damage to the jail property, incidents of absconding, possession of drugs inside the jails etc.
Section 52-A(1) has been amended with imprisonment not less than 3 years, which may extend up to 7 years or with fine, not exceeding Rs.50,000/- or with both for offences against prison discipline. In case of non payment of fine, the imprisonment may be further extended to one year, and on second or subsequent conviction, shall be punished with the imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 5 years but which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend Rs.5 Lac. The existing provision provided for maximum of 1 year imprisonment and fine exceeding rupees twenty-five thousand or both.
Sub-Section (3) of Section 52-A shall be now omitted as it earlier stipulated that the prisoner shall undergo the sentence awarded under sub-section (1) or under sub-section (2) after the completion of the sentence already undergoing.
A new Sections 52-B deals deals with punishment for rioting, while Section 52-C with punishment for assault or use of criminal force to deter prison official from discharge of duty, as well as for punishment for assault or criminal force,
Section 52-D for dealing with escape from prison has been inserted, while Section 52-E has been introduced for mischief causing damage to prison property and Section 52-F for punishment for mischief causing damage to prison property.
Section 52-G deals with punishment for criminal intimidation against a prison official in the prison premises and Section 52-H stipulates punishment for introducing, removing etc. of spirituous liquors, tobacco etc has also been inserted in the amended Act.
Further, Section 52-I has also been inserted for offences to be cognizable, non-bailable etc. which envisages all offences u/s 52-A, Section 52-B, Section 52-C, Section 52-D, Section 52-F, Section 52-G are cognizable and non-bailable and triable by Magistrate of 1st Class.
Clauses (2) and (16) of Section 45 shall be omitted in the amended Act.
It may be noted that despite various security arrangements in the jails of the state, there have been cases of use of mobile phones by the inmates in recent times, as well as riots inside the jails, incidents of assault on jail staff, damage to jail property, fugitive incidents. Incidents of drug trafficking are also coming to light from time to time, which is creating difficulties for the jail administration and the law and order situation in the state.
The Prisons (Punjab Amendment) Act 2013 made some amendments to the Prisons Act, 1894 to prevent wireless communication devices in prisons, vide which a punishment not exceeding one year (bailable) with or without a fine of Rs. 25,000/- was imposed. But it is felt that this provision of punishment is proving insufficient to prevent such incidents and thus the existing provisions of the Act are being amended to make these more stringent to deter the inmates from committing such offences.