In 2011 and 2014, the government had proposed semi-open and open jail facilities in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Prisoners undergoing life imprisonment and those with a record of ‘good conduct’ for at least 12 years are eligible for such facilities.
In the semi-open jails, they can work within the jail premises from 8 am to 8 pm and return at night. Sometimes they are also allowed to stay in a flat instead of cells, reports India Today. The rules are usually very relaxed.
In the open jails, convicts can sign up for jobs anywhere outside the prison premises in Delhi. The ones who complete two years in semi-open jails become eligible for the open jail facility.
However, all this while, female prisoners were excluded from such facilities and no reasonable justification was provided for doing so.
It was Sunil Gupta, retired legal advisor of the prison, who moved court regarding the discriminatory categorisation by the government by filing a petition and also sought to quash the guidelines approved by the LG.
“The provision (in guidelines for treatment of convicts in Delhi Prisons) clearly demonstrates the fallacy as it treats ‘women convicts’ as being in the same category as that of ‘dangerous or habitual male prisoners’. There is virtually no justification for this inhuman, discriminatory, arbitrary and ridiculous categorization,” the petition said.
Finally, Sunil’s hard work has come to fruition. The government recently assured the Delhi High Court that semi-open and open prison facilities would be extended to women inmates too.
Such jail facilities are important for convicts to lead a normal life outside the prison as they lack the confidence and suffer psychological problems while being in confinement.
“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,” said affidavit filed by Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra, reports India Today.