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8th April 2023 (8 Topics)

MHA to provide financial assistance for prisoners


Recently, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has launched a scheme which envisages monetary aid to poor inmates who are unable to afford the penalty or the bail amount.

What is a Bail?

  • It is an amount of money given to a court to allow a prisoner to leave jail and return later for a trial.


About the initiative:

  • In line with one of the announcements of the Union Budget, ‘Support for Poor Prisoners’, the scheme envisages financial support to poor persons.
  • The scheme will enable underprivileged prisoners, majority of whom belong to socially disadvantaged or marginalised groups with lower education and income levels, to get out of prison.
  • The technology-driven solutionswere aimed and put in place to ensure that benefits reach the poor prisoners; reinforcing the E-prisons platform; strengthening of District Legal Services Authority and sensitisation and capacity building of stakeholders to ensure that quality legal aid is made available to needy poor prisoners.

Need of the initiative:

According to Prison Statistics India 2021, a report published by the Ministry of Home Affairs, between 2016-2021, the number of convicts in jails decreased by 9.5 percent whereas the number of undertrial inmates increased by 45.8 percent.

 Major problems of prison systems in India:

  • Over Crowding: Congestion in jails, particularly among undertrials has been a source of concern.
  • Corruption: Corruption by prison staff, and its less aggressive corollary, guard corruption, is common in prisons.
  • Unhealthy Living Conditions: The overcrowding in prisons leads to unsatisfactory living conditions.
  • Staff Shortage and Inadequate Training
  • Unequal treatments: Special privileges are accorded to the minority of the prisoners who came from the upper and middle classes of their irrespective of the crimes they have committed or the way they comport themselves in prison.
  • Inadequate prison Program: Hardly any of the prisons have well-planned prison programs providing daily structured activities, vocational training, pre-discharge guidance, and post-prison monitoring.
  • Poor Budget for Health and Care in Prison
  • Insufficient Legal Aid: The lack of good and efficient lawyers in the legal aid panels is a concern.
  • Abuse of Prisoners: Physical abuse of prisoners by the guards is another chronic problem in the prisons of India.
  • Custodial Tortures /Deaths: The torture brutal physical treatment in custody by police officials is another major problem of jails in India.

Efforts for reforms:

  • Model jail manual:
    • The Union Home Minister released a model jail manual in 2016.
    • It makes clear that the state is under an obligation to protect the residuary rights of prisoners after they surrender their liberty to a legal process.
  • Law Commission of India:
    • There were a series of recommendations made by the Law Commission of India in its 268th report in 2017.
    • The Commission recommended that those detained for offences that come with a punishment of up to seven years of imprisonment should be released on completing one-third of that period and for those charged with offences that attract a longer jail term, after they complete half of that period.
    • It also recommended that the police should avoid needless arrests, while magistrates should refrain from mechanical remand orders.

Government Interventions:

  • Modernization of Prisons scheme: The scheme for modernisation of prisons was launched in 2002-03 with the objective of improving the condition of prisons, prisoners and prison personnel.
  • E-Prisons Project: The E-Prisons project aims to introduce efficiency in prison management through digitization.
  • Model Prison Manual 2016: The manual provides detailed information about the legal services (including free services) available to prison inmates.
  • National Legal Services Authority (NALSA ): It was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 which came into force on 9th November, 1995 to establish a nationwide uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society.


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