Two murder convicts found loitering in Tihar jail

New Delhi: Two murder convicts sentenced to rigorous imprisonment were recently found loitering in Tihar jail by an inspecting judge who passed critical comments on lax rules in prisons.

This has triggered a debate whether rigorous imprisonment really means the rigours of prison like hard labour.

A look at different jail manuals in the country shows that 99 per cent of the convicts being awarded RI may actually be undergoing simple imprisonment in reality.

Sentenced to undergo RI in Delhi's Tihar jail, an ex-IPS officer looks after the library while another convict, also undergoing RI, dishes out legal aid.

Many of those convicted to undergo rigorous imprisonment in various other prisons may actually be serving just simple imprisonment as the jails do not have enough work for the convicts.

"Only 10 per cent of our RI prisoners get work and rest sit idle as there is no work. Prison officials decide the type of work to be given. Work is allocated to a prisoner keeping in mind the best that can be got out of the prisoner," K V Reddy, president All India Prison Officers Association and Deputy Superintendent of Jails, Andhra Pradesh said.

"The word RI needs refinement. Since it is not clearly defined anywhere we end up following the simple rule that a RI prisoner must work. A prisoner sentenced to simple imprisonment has a choice but an RI sentenced prisoner has none," Neeraj Kumar, DG Tihar Prisons said.