The changes have been proposed to Section 436A of CrPC, which provides for release of an inmate on bail after half of the maximum sentence has been served
The report also recommends that a maximum time-frame may be decided for release of women prisoners after bail is granted but surety is not produced
The ministry of women and child development has sought relaxation in provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to allow bail to undertrial women inmates in jails, who have spent one-third of their maximum possible sentence in detention. The changes have been proposed to Section 436A of CrPC, which provides for release of an inmate on bail after half of the maximum sentence has been served and the new proposal is part of the recommendations of a report on ‘Women in Prisons'. The report also recommends that a maximum time-frame may be decided for release of women prisoners after bail is granted but surety is not produced. Bail can be granted only after due scrutiny as provided under the law in such cases. The discussion on surety is intended to ensure poor or financially dependent women do not languish in prisons, it is stated. It also states that prior to imprisonment, women with care-giving responsibilities be allowed to make arrangements for their children, and a reasonable suspension of detention may also be provided for this purpose.
This report will now be shared with the ministry of home affairs for issuing advisory to the states for implementation of recommendations. WCD minister Maneka Gandhisees the report as an “initiative that should change the way prison administration perceives women inmates”.
The ministry shares data to reinforce its point. As per most recent data from the end of 2015, there are 4,19,623 persons in jail in India, of which, 17,834 (about 4.3%) are women. Of these, 11,916 (66.8%) are undertrial prisoners. An analysis of prison statistics at five-year intervals reveals an increasing number of women prisoners — from 3.3% of all prisoners in 2000 to 4.3% in 2015.
A majority of female inmates are in the age group of 30-50 years (50.5%), followed by 18-30 years (31.3%). Of the 1,401 prisons in India, 18 are exclusive for women, housing 2,985 female prisoners. A majority of women inmates are housed in women’s enclosures of general prisons. The report also talks of the need for a more robust grievance redressal system to tackle cases of sexual harassment, violence and abuse in jails.