Prisoners in Punjab now can get parole to renovate their houses, farm activity

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Prisoners in Punjab now can get parole to renovate their houses and for agriculture purposes with the state Assembly on Monday passing the Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Amendment Bill, 2016. However, Opposition Congress questioned the intention of SAD-BJP alliance and accused it of seeking help of "dreaded gangsters" to win the upcoming election in Punjab and demanded its rollback.

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As per the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, a need has been felt to include additional causes for temporary release including repair/renovation of houses or agriculture and allied activities. For this, it is necessary to amend the Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 1962, it said.

When the Bill was proposed by Jail Minister Sohan Singh Thandal, Congress members raised objection to the Bill and asked the treasury benches to disclose the motive behind it with elections round the corner.

"Punjab DGP has agreed that there are 53 gangsters operating in the state. This is an election year. What does the government want to achieve by bringing hardcore criminals out of jail around election time? Does the government want to increase the number of gangsters and win elections (through gangsters). What is the motive of the government? It should tell the House," Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi said.

Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa wanted to know the parameters within which parole will be given to prisoners while another Congress legislator, Balbir Singh Sidhu, asked what would be the definition of good conduct of prisoners. "Does SAD want to win polls (through criminals)?" Sidhu asked.

He said in Kurali, a convict released on parole had committed a murder recently, thus the intent of the government raises apprehension. However, Jail Minister Sohan Singh Thandal said the concerns regarding the Bill was "unwanted" and it was not a new law. "There was already a provision for parole in the system and each prisoner has the right to it but only those whose conduct is good will get parole," Thandal said.

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