KARACHI: The provincial cabinet of Sindh, taking a historic decision on Monday, discarded the 100-year-old punitive Prison Act of 1894 and approved the Sindh Prison and Correction Act 2019.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah at the New Sindh Secretariat and was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, all provincial ministers, advisors, special assistants and concerned secretaries.
During the meeting, the chief minister said that the purpose of the prison system is to contribute to the maintenance and protection of a just peaceful and safe society by enforcing sentences given by the courts, confining all prisoners in safe custody whilst ensuring their fundamental rights and enshrined in the constitution and assisting the welfare and rehabilitation of prisoners and their reintegration into the society as law-abiding citizens through provision of reformation programme. “Therefore, we have to make our Act and rules accordingly,” he said.
Home Secretary Kazi Kabir while briefing the cabinet about the issues in the previous Prisons Acts of 1894 said that it was primarily punitive in nature and lacked certain aspects such as reformation, adequate security, clarity on policy and management and also lacked core focus on the development of prison human resources.
Prison Minister Syed Nasir Shah spelling out silent features of the draft act said it has 14 chapters and 84 sections in which purpose of a prison system, basic principles and definitions have been given clearly.
He added that the new law deals with the declaration of prisons, sub-jail, judicial lock-ups, the establishment of prison policy board and management committees, duties of IG and other officers, establishment of a Prison Training Academy, recruitment, transfer, posting, discipline and performance and powers of officers and the medical officer, prisoners’ wellbeing rehabilitation such as non-discrimination, meaningful remunerated employment opportunities, minimum one visit for one hour per month, education, vocational training, health facilities and social and psychological services, visits and correspondence such as prisoners can send or receive letters, visits – supervised, audio or video recorder etc., prisoners oversight committee visits, inspections, testing of food and inquiries into complaints among other issues.
The cabinet discussed the draft and approved it and also formed a committee under Minister Prison Syed Nasir Shah, Minister Energy Imtiaz Shaikh and Advisor Law to give final touch ups to the draft and send it to the assembly within seven days.
The chief minister directed Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah to ensure framing of rules of all the draft acts approved by the cabinet within next 15 days.