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Punjab Minister: No more than 400 eligible for release

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s announcement to free 550 prisoners to mark the 550th Parkash Purb celebrations of Guru Nanak this November has put the state Prison Department in a tizzy as there aren’t enough eligible prisoners for special remission.
Despite calculating the best possible remission of up to one year as a special case, the department could find only 350 eligible prisoners. Usually, remission of up to six months is given.

The Chief Minister had, on September 28, announced that the government would release 550 prisoners by mid-November. As per officials of the Prisons Department, it would be impossible to reach the figure of 550 in a month.

The department has already explained the situation to the government in a detailed note. It had pointed out the laid down procedure for remission and asked for easing of norms, if the government insisted on releasing 550 prisoners.

Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa admitted that the target of releasing 550 prisoners was almost impossible to achieve. “Even if we give the maximum remission of one year, we won’t be able to find even 400 eligible prisoners. If we want to ease the norms, we will have to get it passed in the state Assembly and even from the Union Home Ministry on certain aspects of remission,” he said.

The minister said the department was trying its best to scramble the maximum number of prisoners for release, but it could not ignore rules and regulations in this regard.

Though Punjab has more than 21,000 prisoners lodged in different jails, it can only give remission in prison term to those lodged in non-heinous crimes. Those serving sentence for drugs smuggling, rape and gruesome murders cannot be pardoned, explained officials.