What is the Model Prisons Act announced by the MHA?

Source: The post is based on the article “What is the Model Prisons Act announced by the MHA?” published in the Indian Express on 29th May 2023

What is the News?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that it has finalised the preparation of the Model Prisons Act, 2023.

Why has the Government come up with the Model Prisons Act 2023?

Read more: Centre prepares new Model Prisons Act with focus on reform

About the formulation of Model Prisons Act 2023

The pre-Independence Prisons Act, 1894, focused on keeping criminals in custody and enforcing discipline and order in prisons, leaving “no provision for reform and rehabilitation of prisoners”.

The MHA assigned the task of revising the Prisons Act, 1894, to the Bureau of Police Research and Development. The bureau, after holding wide-ranging discussions with state prison authorities and correctional experts, among others, prepared the draft, which culminated in the 2023 Act.

Along with the Prisons Act, 1894, the Prisoners Act, 1900, and the Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950’ have also been reviewed by the MHA, and their relevant provisions have been assimilated into the Model Prisons Act, 2023.

What are the new provisions being proposed in the Model Prisons Act 2023?

-Create provisions for the grant of parole, furlough, and remission to prisoners to encourage good conduct,

-Provide separate accommodation for women and transgender inmates,

-Ensure the physical and mental well-being of prisoners, and focus on the reformation and rehabilitation of inmates,

-Intends to bring about “attitudinal change towards prisoners” and initiate vocational training and skill development for prisoners for their reintegration into society.

– Focus on “transparency in prison management” by including provisions for grievance-redressal; prison development board; use of technology in prison administration; and protecting society from criminal activities of hardened criminals and habitual offenders.

Is the Model Prisons Act 2023 binding on states?

No, as per the Constitutional provisions, ‘prisons’ and ‘persons detained therein’ fall under the State List.

This means that the responsibility of prison management and administration solely vests with the state government. So, the state alone is competent to make appropriate legislative provisions in this regard.

But the MHA stated that the adoption of model law by states is crucial owing to the critical role played by “efficient prison management” in the criminal justice system. So, the Model Act “may serve as a guiding document for the States.”

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