Undertrials constitute 74.06 per cent of thetotal prison population in the country

According to statistics relating to the jail population in the country, compiled by the Custodial Justice Cell of the National Human Rights Commission, a total of 2,25,817 persons out of the jail population of 3,04,893 persons are undertrials. This analysis is based on data as of 30 June 2002 that was obtained from all the States and Union Territories.

Among the States/UTs, 100% of the prison population in Dadra & Nagar Haveli are undertrials while the figure for Meghalaya is 94.66%, Manipur 92.19%, Jammu & Kashmir 91.67%, Nagaland 89.87%, Uttar Pradesh 87.37%, Bihar 86.27%, Jharkhand 83.24%, Mizoram 79.14%, Nagaland 89.87%, Karnataka 79.34% and Delhi 78.52%. Andaman & Nicobar among the UTs and Tamil Nadu among the States have the lowest percentage of undertrials, 24.05% and 36.16% respectively.

The authorized jail capacity in the country is 2,32,412, which means that over- crowding is in the order of 31.19%. The maximum overcrowding in jails is in Delhi, which has overcrowding of 217%. Delhi is followed by Jharkhand with165%, Chhatisgarh 110%, Gujarat and Haryana 100% each, Bihar 74%, Sikkim 72%, Uttar Pradesh 70%, Madhya Pradesh 66%, Orissa 54%, Goa 39%, Tripura 35%.

Conversely, some States/UTs indicate an idle capacity in their jails. Manipur has 66.07%% idle capacity followed by Jammu & Kashmir 58.55%, Daman & Diu 57.50%, Chandigarh 57.30%, Tamil Nadu 55.62%, Nagaland 47.24%, West Bengal 22.88%, Rajasthan 22.67%, Dadra & Nagar Haveli 22.5%, Kerala 9.4% and Pondicherry 7.21%.

Women account for 3.42% of the total jail population. There are 10,414 women prisoners in Indian jails. The percentage of women prisoners is the highest in Mizoram 10.19%, followed by Tamil Nadu 6.59%, Dadra & Nagar Haveli 6.45%, Andhra Pradesh 5.52% Kerala 5.38%, Punjab 5.35%, West Bengal 4.85%, Manipur 4.53% and Delhi 4.52%.

Children less than 5 to 6 years of age are permitted to live with their mothers in jails. 1369 women in jails have their children living with them, of whom 234 are in West Bengal, 219 in Uttar Pradesh, 196 in Bihar and 138 in Madhya Pradesh.

The analysis indicates that India has, on an average, 29.69 prisoners per lakh of population. In comparison, there are 700 prisoners per lakh of population in the USA, 650 in Russia, 400 in South Africa, 300 in Thailand, 132 in UK and 102 in Canada, according to data provided by the International Centre for Prison Studies, King’s College, London.