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Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs recommends MHA to give clear definition of 'young offenders'

New Delhi: Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has recommended the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to give a clear definition of "young offenders".

The committee's recommendation comes in its 245th report on the subject ‘Prison - Conditions, Infrastructure and Reforms’. The report was submitted in both the Houses of Parliament (the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha) on Thursday.

The committee, in para 2.5.3 of its report, has noted that "the picture of young offenders is not clear across states".

In view of this, the committee recommends that, a "clear definition of 'young offenders' should be given by MHA along with a common guideline to all state and Union Territory (UT) governments describing the procedure to govern them.

It is also recommended that the guidelines in this regard shall be provided for the convenience of the state and UT governments.

"State governments may take steps for holistic development of these young offenders by providing all of them with education, skill and vocational training, nutrition," states the report.

"Also, the rate of recidivism among this category of inmates may be monitored regularly and a study may be conducted to understand the social background of such young offenders."

The committee, in the para 2.5.4 of its report, has noted that, not all the state and the UT governments have borstal schools in their jurisdictions. Only Tamil Nadu and seven other states namely, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Telangana have borstal schools in their jurisdictions.

Taking notice of this fact, the committee further recommends that, at least two to three borstal schools should be opened wherever it is non-existent on need basis.

In the beginning paras of the report, the committee also noted that the issue of "overcrowding and delayed justice" has become a pressing concern, leading to a series of consequences for both the prisoners and the criminal justice system as a whole.

The committee also recommends that "prisoners from overcrowded jails may be transferred to other jails with vacant cells in the same state or other states by signing MoUs (Memorandum of Understandings) to that effect."

"This kind of an arrangement can be mutual in nature between the states signing the MoU," the report states.

In the report, the committee pointed issues of transgender prisoners and recommended that they are to be provided the same standards of health care available to other inmates and should have access to necessary health-care services without discrimination on the grounds of their gender identity.

The committee recommends that a doctor of their choice, rather than the prison officials, should examine them before lodging them in the appropriate prison so that they may not be misgendered. "There should be provisions made in prisons to have medical and health care experts to provide appropriate care to transgender inmates, if it is not feasible to have in-house health experts, they may be referred to doctors and professionals who specialize in this area of health care.

The committee also recommended separate infrastructure facilities for transgender prisoners.

"Separate barracks or ward may be ensured for transmen and transwomen. To preserve their right to privacy and dignity, there should also be provision for separate toilets and bathing facilities for such prisoners," added the report.

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs is chaired by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Brijlal. The Committee held six meetings on the subject and interacted with the representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs, domain experts on the subject, and various state governments.

The Committee also collected information from all the States and UTs on the issues of Conditions, Infrastructure and Reforms in the prison system. The Committee had considered the draft report and adopted the same in its meeting held on August 24 this year. (ANI)

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