According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Prison Statistics 2015, over 55 per cent of undertrials across the country are either Muslims, Dalits or tribals. This number is not proportion with their combined representation in the census, which is close to 39 per cent. Interestingly, combined percentage of the convicts from these communities is 50.4 per cent – lower than the 55 per cent among the undertrials.
Representational picture. Image credit: Lex Indsier
The Muslim community which makes up for 14.2 per cent of the total population, fares a little higher with a percentage of 15.8 among the convicts, and much higher with a percentage of 20.9 per cent among the undertrials, as pointed out by an Indian Express report.
SCs having a share of 16.6 per cent in the country’s population make up for 20.9 per cent of the convicts and 21.6 per cent of the undertrials, and STs adding up to 8.6 per cent of the population, have a percentage of 13.7 in the number of convicts, and 12.4 among the undertrials. It is noteworthy that the percentage of undertrials from all three communities individually as well is higher than their conviction percentage.
In the 21st edition of the NCRB prison statistics, a few changes in the ongoing trends have been noticed. While comparing the data to 2014 prison statistics, the NCRB report says the most significant increase in convictions was in rape cases — a jump of 11.6 per cent as against 1.5 per cent in murder cases and 2 per cent in overall convictions. Majority of rape convicts were lodged in Uttar Pradesh accounting for 19.6 per cent (1,944 out of 9,908) of total such convicts, according to the NCRB publication.
Although jails in the country continue to be overcrowded, the occupancy rate has decreased from 117.4 per cent in 2014 to 114.4 per cent, this year. The maximum overcrowding was observed in jails in Dadra & Nagar Haveli (276.7 per cent), followed by Chhattisgarh (233.9 per cent), Delhi (226.9 per cent), Meghalaya (177.9 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (168.8 per cent) and Madhya Pradesh (139.8 per cent).
The report also states that 67 per cent of the jail inmates i.e. more than two third of the imprisoned are undertrials. This reiterates the concern expressed by the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, who had recently slammed the central government for stalling the process of appointment of judges.
Some of the interesting highlights from the NCRB publication:
- The highest number of graduate (1,553) and post graduate (566) convicts were reported from Uttar Pradesh at the end of the year 2015.
- A total of 1,584 deaths in jails were reported (1,469 natural and 115 un-natural) during the year 2015.
- The highest gross earning by producing goods by inmates trained in various vocational programs was reported from Tamil Nadu followed by Delhi, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh during the year 2015.
- The prisons have a staff strength of 53,009 jail officials to take care of 4,19,623 inmates which amounts to 1 jail official per 8 inmates.
(In general, an ideal staff-to-inmate ratio should be 1:3 according the global norms.)
- A total of 26 incidents of jail break and 187 incidents of clashes/group clashes were reported during the year 2015 in which 9 inmates were killed and 201 inmates were injured in such clashes.