3,540 undertrials in jails for more than five years

Jail

This is one figure would not please the government. Over 3,500 undertrial prisoners are in jails across the country for more than five years, which will serve as a testimony for the failure of government in ensuring judicial and jail reforms.

According to latest official figures, there are 3,540 undertrial prisoners languishing in jails for more than five years as on December 31, 2014 without closure in their cases, which is an increase of 16 per cent from the previous year. Of this, 176 are women.

In 2013, there were 3,047 such prisoners while it was 2,028 in 2012, showing that the pace of growth in such prisoners was fast in the past couple of years.

Last year, majority of such prisoners come from Uttar Pradesh and they (1,022) accounted for 28 per cent while Bihar had 477 such prisoners. In 2013, there were 914 such prisoners from Uttar Pradesh and 464 from Bihar.

Punjab is the only major state, which had shown decrease in the number of such prisoners. While it had 317 undertrials languishing in jail for over five years, the number came down to 294 in 2013 and then to 180 last year.

Karnataka has 49 such prisoners now while it had 48 in 2013 and 51 in 2013. Delhi has 126 such prisoners last year.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has earlier suggested that undertrials should be released on bail after chargesheets are filed in courts. The Commission felt this would help in reducing overcrowding in jails.

According to the Prison Statistics India 2014 report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), except Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Daman and Diu, most of undertrial prisoners were detained for less than three months in majority of the states indicating good number of release of older undertrials from prisons during 2014.

A total of 12,052 undertrial prisoners were lodged beyond 3 to 5 years at the end of the year 2014. There were 3,479 such undertrial prisoners in Uttar Pradesh followed by Bihar (1,198), Rajasthan (1,088), Punjab (1,038), Jharkhand (839), Maharashtra (677), West Bengal (633) and Gujarat (614).

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 3, 2015)

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