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Don't segregate prisoners on basis of caste, religion: MHA to states

The MHA said the prison manual also provides that no classification of prisoners shall be allowed on grounds of socio-economic status, caste or class.
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 14:37 IST

New Delhi: The Centre has asked states and Union Territories not to segregate prisoners on the basis of their caste and religion and to stop assigning duties like managing prison kitchens according to the discriminatory approach.

In a communication, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the jail manuals of some states provide for segregation of prisoners based on their caste and religion and they are being assigned duties in the prisons accordingly.

"It may be noted that the Constitution of India prohibits any kind of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, or place of birth. The Model Prison Manual, 2016 prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs and circulated to all states and UTs in May 2016 explicitly prohibits caste and religion-based discrimination of prisoners in the management of kitchen or cooking of food on caste or religious basis," the communication said.

"The manual also provides that any special treatment to a group of prisoners belonging to a particular caste or religion is strictly prohibited," it added.

The MHA said the prison manual also provides that no classification of prisoners shall be allowed on grounds of socio-economic status, caste or class.

All states and Union Territories are requested to take note of the above and ensure that their prison manual or prison act should not contain such discriminatory provisions, it said.

The MHA said in case any such provision exists, immediate steps must be taken to amend or remove the discriminatory provision from the manual or the act.

It is reiterated that there should be no caste-based assignment of duties or work in the prisons, it said.

The MHA said it has been the constant endeavour of the central government to reach out to the prison authorities of the country and provide them assistance in the form of financial aid for technology-driven projects as well as sharing contemporary best practices and guidelines on varied aspects of efficient prison administration from time to time.

As part of this exercise, the MHA said, the medical care of prisoners is one of the significant concerns of prison management.

The MHA said it has been advising the states and Union Territories from time to time to ensure that due importance is given to the physical and mental well-being of prisoners.

To maintain uniformity in the process of medical check-ups of prisoners, the Model Prison Manual 2016 provides for the procedure to be followed by the states and Union Territories.

The MHA said health check-ups of prisoners especially those who are old and specially-abled should be conducted regularly.

Special health check-ups of women prisoners and transgender prisoners should also be conducted besides periodic check-ups or screening of inmates for their mental well-being, it said.

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(Published 29 February 2024, 14:37 IST)

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