The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the response of the AAP government on a plea challenging the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, which prevent an inmate convicted of kidnapping from being transferred to a semi-open jail, where prisoners don't live in cells and are assigned rooms. Those in semi-open jail, which is assigned on the basis of an inmate's conduct and work, also get desk jobs within the prison complex.
A bench of justices Hima Kohli and Manoj Kumar Ohri issued notice to the Delhi government and sought its response on the plea of a man, sentenced to life for kidnapping and killing a 19-year-old, who wants to be transferred to a semi-open jail. The convict, Ashok Vishwakarma, was sentenced to life by a trial court in 2009 and his appeal was dismissed by the high court in 2013.
In his plea, filed through advocate Akshay Bhandari, the convict has contended that he was not being considered for transfer to the semi-open jail as under the new rules, those convicted for kidnapping are ineligible. Under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, those ineligible for semi-open or open jails include inmates who are habitual offenders, are considered dangerous, are involved in serious prison violence, were convicted for offences such as dacoity, terrorist crimes, kidnapping, smuggling, drug trafficking or possession or members of organized criminal gangs, the petition has said.
It has claimed that those convicted for murder are considered for transfer to semi-open and open jails based on their conduct and work inside the prison. The petition has contended that "differentiating between convicts for the purpose of semi-open jail, based on the offences for which they are convicted is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution".
In his plea, Vishwakarma has contended that the rule under challenge is "unconstitutional, arbitrary and illogical" as persons facing trial for kidnapping are released on bail and after conviction are also granted furlough and parole based on their conduct. He has contended that in his 14 year long incarceration, he has availed parole and furlough 21 times and has always surrendered on time, not committed any offence while outside and has had a perfect conduct, yet because he was convicted for kidnapping he was ineligible for semi-open jail.
He has claimed that this indicated that a person with satisfactory conduct may be released on parole to mix with society in complete freedom, irrespective of the offence committed, but cannot be transferred to a semi-open jail where he would be under the supervision of the prison authorities and security personnel.
(With inputs from agencies.)