Women and transgender convicts above 55 and male convicts over 60 who have completed half of their prison sentences will be released under an amnesty scheme during the year-long celebrations to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, beginning October 2.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday. However, prisoners convicted of heinous crimes, such as dowry death, rape, human trafficking and under POTA, UAPA, TADA, money laundering law and FEMA among others, will not be covered.

Eligible prisoners will be released in three phases. The first phase of release will be on October 2 this year, the second on April 10 next year, the anniversary of Champaran satyagrah, and the third on October 2, 2019.

Physically challenged convicts with 70% disability and more who have completed half of their jail term, terminally-ill convicts and prisoners who have completed two-thirds of their actual sentence will also be released. The special remission will not be given to prisoners sentenced to death or whose sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment.

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