By M Zulqernain
Lahore, Aug 5 (PTI) The newly-appointed government in Pakistan's Punjab province has proposed reducing the prison terms of inmates of minority communities if they memorise the holy texts of their respective religions.
The home department of Punjab province on Thursday sent a summary to chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi for the remission of sentences between three and six months for Christian, Hindu, and Sikh prisoners lodged in prisons in the province.
"The home department of the Punjab government has sent a summary to the chief minister for proposing remission of sentence between three and six months for Christian and Hindu prisoners for memorising their holy texts -- The Bible and The Bhagavad Gita, respectively," a senior government official told PTI on Friday.
According to the official website of Punjab's prison service, Muslim convicts who memorise the Holy Quran can gain sentence remissions between six months and two years.
After the chief minister's approval, the summary will be sent to the cabinet for approval, the official said.
The home department will then issue a notification for the remission of Christian and Hindu prisoners.
The move will encourage prisoners of minority communities to study their holy texts, the official added.
In March, Lahore High Court sought a report from the Punjab government about education remissions being granted to minority prisoners after a Christian filed a petition seeking remissions for inmates of other religions as are granted to Muslims under Rule 215 of the Pakistan Prisons Rules 1978.
At present, there are 1,188 minority prisoners, including Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs in 34 prisons in the Punjab province, according to official estimates.
These include 829 prisoners awaiting trial, 320 convicts, and 39 condemned prisoners, it added. PTI MZ VM VM