Thiruvananthapuram: The release of 148 prisoners who have so far served 14 years -- the minimum duration of life imprisonment -- has hit a roadblock with the announcement of the Kerala Assembly Election. This includes prisoners who have been jailed for more than 30 years and those above the age of 80.
After these prisoners complained they have been ignored while the state offered remission, a list was prepared and handed over to the Chief Minister's Office. But the file remained there and the poll schedule was announced last week. Now, no further action can be taken until the Assembly election is over in the state next month.
Several prisoners had given written complaints to the government, alleging that the jail advisory committees were not considering them though they had completed 14 years in prison. A committee, comprising Home and Law secretaries and the DGP (Jail), was formed to look into this. This committee scrutinised the case of 240 prisoners, who were not considered by the advisory committees.
The committee then prepared a list of 148 prisoners, included in six categories such as those who have completed 25 years of imprisonment, 30 years' imprisonment including commutation, and ailing inmates above 70. The decision was taken on humanitarian grounds in most of the cases.
Four inmates on the list have completed 30 years of imprisonment. There are also three women prisoners from the central jails at Kannur and Thrissur as well as the women's prison at Attakulangara, Thiruvananthapuram.
The average age of prisoners on the list is 60. Fourteen of them are over the age of 80.
The government had set up the committee in January. The committee had quickly prepared the list and handed it over to the CM's office by mid-February. The officers believe that if the list was sent to the Governor then itself, the 148 prisoners would have been released. Now, they will remain behind the bars till the election is over.