The newly-appointed government in Pakistan’s Punjab province has proposed to reduce the sentences of prisoners from minority communities for memorizing their holy scriptures. The Home Department of Punjab province has sent a ‘summary’ to Chief Minister Chaudhary Pervez Elahi seeking remission of three to six months in sentence for Christian, Hindu and Sikh prisoners lodged in the province’s jails.
A senior official told PTI on Friday, “The Home Department of the Punjab government has proposed a relaxation of three to six months for Christian and Hindu prisoners to memorize their sacred texts – the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita – from their sentence.” A ‘summary’ has been sent to the Chief Minister to give.
According to the official website of the Jail Service of Punjab, Muslim prisoners who memorize the Holy Quran can get a remission of their sentence from six months to two years. The summary will be sent for cabinet approval after the chief minister’s nod, the official said. After this, the Home Department will issue a notification regarding reduction in the sentence period of Hindu and Christian prisoners. He said the move would motivate the prisoners belonging to the minority community to study their holy scriptures.
In March, the Lahore High Court had called for a report from the Punjab government on the remission of sentence for minority prisoners. A Christian petitioner had requested a similar exemption for prisoners of other religions, citing the exemption given to Muslims under Rule 215 of the Pakistan Jail Rules 1978. According to official estimates, there are currently 1,188 minority prisoners, including Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, in 34 prisons in Punjab province.
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