The Rajasthan government has amended the Rajasthan Prison Rules, 1951 recently.
These amendments have been introduced after the Rajasthan High Court recently asked the State Government to ensure that the prisoners are not forced to indulge in menial jobs like cleaning toilets etc. merely on the basis of their caste.
The amendments have been done by the State Government in exercise of the power conferred by Section 59 of The Prisons Act, 1894.
The state government has made three changes in these rules.
These amendments were made following the Suo motu cognizance by the Rajasthan High Court took over a media report on caste practices which are prevalent in prisons of Rajasthan.
The media reported that, every person entering to the prison are asked about his caste. Once their caste is identified menial jobs such as cleaning toilets, sweeping the prisons etc are assigned to them.
What are the amendments?
- Rule 67 under Section 2– This rule comprises norms regarding the “cooking of food”. The rule earlier read as “any Brahmin or sufficiently high caste Hindu prisoner from this class is eligible for appointment as cook”. Amendment has been made that now reads as “No inmate shall be selected for cooking on the basis of his caste or religion.”
- Rule 13 of Section I of Part 10- This section comprises of the restriction on the employment of convicts as tradesman- This section of the rule earlier stated that,
Barber shall be a non-habitual prisoner.
Sweepers shall be chosen from among those who perform sweeper’s work by the custom of the district in which they reside
Anyone who is not a professional sweeper may also volunteer to do this work. However, the person who is not a profession sweeper shall not be compelled to do the work’
After amendments, the paragraph now states that “No tradesman shall be chosen on the basis of his caste or religion.”
- Rule 17, Clause (d) of Section 1 in Part 15: This section defines a habitual offender as “any member of a criminal tribe subject to the discretion of the Government”. The clause (d) has now been deleted.