After 87 yrs, Bihar jail manual sees change

Remember Asrani’s oft-repeated dialogue in Ramesh Sippy’s blockbuster Sholay – “Hum Angrezon ke zamane ke jailer hai…?”

But from Wednesday onwards, there will be no jailer or assistant jailer in Bihar to man the 56 prisons in the State. Instead, they will be known as deputy superintendent and assistant superintendent respectively, as the 87-year-old archaic Bihar Jail Manual has undergone a complete metamorphosis.

Effective 12-12-12 (the unique date as per numerology), the Bihar Jail Manual, 2012, has replaced the earlier one framed during “Angrezon ke zamane” (British period) in 1925. Bihar, thus, became arguably the first State in the country to implement “advance speech recognition technology” which will record the voice of every prisoner. This will help in crime detection and control by matching voice samples of suspects with those in the archives.

Besides, all the inmates in the 56 prisons, comprising eight central jails, 32 district jails and 16 sub-jails, will be given 11-digit unique identity codes (UIC) which will have their fingerprints, photographs, criminal record and a medical card (to keep a tab on their medical history), besides information about their belongings. All the visitors to jails will be photographed and will have to submit identity proof like PAN card or voter ID card.

As per the new rules, it will be mandatory for the district magistrates (DMs) to hold once every two months a “Bandi Durbar” (much akin to CM’s Janata Durbar) which will be an interactive session with the prisoners aimed at redressing their grievances.

While reviewing the draft of the prison manual, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stressed the need to monitor the food of inmates. “Therefore, CCTV cameras will be installed to monitor food preparation and its distribution,” said IG, Prisons, Anand Kishore. The thrust of the new jail manual is to reform the prisoners, he added.

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