The Punjab government on Wednesday decided to amend the Prison Act, 1894 to strengthen security across the state’s prisons and curb criminal acts by inmates through more stringent punishment for major offences like rioting, escape from prison, and other violations of prison discipline and rules.
A Bill to bring in the necessary changes will be introduced in the Budget Session of the Vidhan Sabha, scheduled to begin on March 1.
The decision was taken by the state Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The council of ministers approved a proposal mooted by the Jails Department to add new penal provisions in the Act to strengthen security arrangements and prevent the use of mobile phones by the inmates, riots inside the jails, incidents of assault on the jail staff, damage to the jail property, incidents of absconding, possession of drugs inside the jails, etc.
Section 52-A(1) has been amended with imprisonment not less than three years, which may extend up to seven years or with fine, not exceeding Rs 50,000 or with both for offences against prison discipline.
In case of non-payment of fine, the imprisonment may be further extended to one year, and on second or subsequent conviction, will be punished with the imprisonment of either description for a term which will not be less than five years but which may extend to 10 years and will also be liable to fine which may extend to Rs 5 lakh.
The existing provision provided for maximum of one year imprisonment and fine exceeding Rs 25,000 or both.