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Prisoners UNDER trail

Prisons and their administration are a state subject in India, as defined by item 4 of the State List in the Constitution's Seventh Schedule. Prison management and administration are exclusively the responsibility of the state governments and are governed by the Prisons Act of 1894 and the individual state governments' Prison Manuals. “The history of jails in India and elsewhere clearly shows changes in society's response to crime throughout time. The prison system is an odd amalgamation of several punitive goals. Thus, prison may serve to deter the offender or it may be used as a method of retribution or vengeance by making the life of the offender miserable and difficult.”

The federal government assists states in improving prison security, rebuilding and renovating old jails, improving medical services, establishing borstal schools, providing facilities for female inmates, vocational training, modernising prison industries, training prison officers, and constructing high-security enclosures. “Three fundamental principles pertaining to imprisonment and detention have been articulated by the Supreme Court of India in its judgements on various elements of jail management. Firstly, an inmate does not become a non-person in jail. Secondly, under the limits of incarceration, a person in prison is entitled to all human rights.” “It is important to remember that various punishments are to be dealt with by prison prisoners because universal punishment can hardly serve the interests of justice for any of them. As a result, inmates must be divided into various groups based on the severity of their crime and the duration of their sentence. A pre-condition for an optimal penal program is the proper classification of criminals for the purpose of treatment.


At the end of 2019, more than one lakh people were lodged in Indian Prisons as undertrials for more than a year. An undertrial is an unconvicted prisoner who is on trial in a court of law. The share of undertrials lodged in prisons for more than a year has increased over time as the percentage of cases pending judgment in courts has also increased sharply. The number of people lodged in Indian prisons as undertrials increased at a faster rate between 2001 and 2019 than those convicted. At the end of 2019, 3.28 lakh prison inmates were undergoing trial, while 1.42 lakh were convicted.

Years Passed, But Indian Prisons Stayed the Same – Statistics

As per Prison Statistics India 2019, a report released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), there are a total of 1350 prisons in India. In 2019, the capacity of prisons increased by 1.90% but the number of prisoners increased by 2.69%, as compared to 2018. Thus, the occupancy rate increased from 117.6% to 118.5% between 2018 and 2019. This rate has been quite consistent over the years. The high occupancy rate indicates the problem of overcrowding in prisons. This is due to the large number of undertrial prisoners. India ranks 15th out of 217 countries on the basis of its undertrial population. Undertrial prisoners formed 70% of the total prison population in 2019. This number has been consistently high, at an average of 66.97% over the past years. The number of undertrial prisoners increased by 2.15% between 2018 and 2019; of these, only 91 were civil inmates. As per the Prison Report, many undertrials languish in jails for several years. 74.08% of undertrials were confined for up to 1 year, 13.35% for 1-2 years, 6.79% for 2-3 years, 4.25% for 3-5 years and 1.52% of undertrials were confined for more than 5 years.

Shocking Incidents

Stan Swamy - Stan Swamy’s case is symptomatic of a larger problem: Keeping undertrial prisoners (UTPs) in jail by default. The National Crime Records Bureau’s Prison Statistics Report 2019 shows that UTPs comprise 69.05% of all inmates of India’s prisons. On July 5, 84-year-old Stan Swamy died in hospital, far from his home and the community he tirelessly worked for. For eight months, he had suffered slowly in jail. Visibly unwell and battling Parkinson’s, he had requested the Bombay High Court (HC) to allow him to go home to “be with my own”. He was not yet charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime — only accused of having vague links to a terrorist conspiracy. Still, he was repeatedly denied bail until the inevitable came to pass.

Mohd. Amir Khan –

Mohammad Amir Khan gets solatium from Delhi Police after NHRC takes up issue