Citizens' Issues
Undertrial prisoners in India equals Population of Barbados
-- Rudal Shah, arrested in 1953, remained in Bihar's Muzaffarpur jail for 30 years despite being acquitted in 1968.
 
-- Boka Thakur, arrested at 16, was jailed and detained without trial for 36 years in Bihar's Madhubani jail.
 
Shah and Thakur are just two of the 282,879 undertrials in Indian prisons, according to Prison Statistics 2014 -- a number equal to the population of the Caribbean nation of Barbados.
 
An IndiaSpend analysis of available data reveals the extent of the problem: Between 2010 and 2014, 25 per cent undertrials had been jailed for more than one year. The percentage of undertrials to total prisoners has remained over 65 per cent during this period.
 
In 2014, seven in 10 prisoners were undertrials, and two in 10 had been detained for more than one year without being convicted.
 
Undertrials -- those detained in prisons during trial, investigation or inquiry -- are presumed innocent till proven guilty. But they are often subjected to psychological and physical torture during detention and exposed to prison violence and poor living conditions. Many lose their family ties and, often, their livelihoods.
 
Undertrials tend to have restricted access to legal representatives for two reasons: Lack of resources and curtailed liberty to communicate with lawyers from within the jail premises. This is despite a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that Article 21 of the Constitution entitles prisoners to a fair and speedy trial as part of their fundamental right to life and liberty.
 
The court also pointed out that prisoners face a "double handicap" -- most are poor, come from disadvantaged social groups, have little education, and their voices are rarely heard.
 
"The judiciary and the government have admitted that many undertrials are poor people accused of minor offences, locked away for long periods because they don't know their rights and cannot access legal aid," Arijit Sen, Manager, Undertrials Project at Amnesty International, an advocacy, said in an email interview.
 
Undertrials often remain behind bars for years despite the provisions of Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which came into effect in 2005. This section mandates the release, on personal bond with or without surety, of undertrial detainees who have been imprisoned for half the maximum sentence they would have received if convicted for the offence they are charged with.
 
This section does not apply to those who could be sentenced to death or life term. But 39 per cent of those charged for crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) couldn't be punished with life term or death penalty, Prison Statistics 2014 show. 
 
As many as 122,056 undertrial prisoners (43 per cent) have been detained for more than six months to more than five years by the end of 2014. Many of them have remained in prison for more than the period of punishment they would have got had they been convicted.
 
The number of undertrial prisoners in all detention periods increased over five years, except in the case of detention up to three months. The highest increase was seen in the category of detention for three-to-five years.
 
More than 25 per cent of undertrial prisoners in 16 out of 36 states and Union territories have been detained for more than one year in 2014. Jammu and Kashmir leads this list with 54 per cent, followed by Goa (50 per cent) and Gujarat (42 per cent). Uttar Pradesh leads in terms of sheer numbers (18,214).
 
In June 2013, in a letter to the Supreme Court, former Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti had talked about how inhuman conditions persisted in 1,382 prisons despite a series of court and government orders.
 
In response to this letter, which was later registered as a public interest writ petition -- and despite the lukewarm response from the states -- the Supreme Court, in a landmark 2014 judgement, ordered the immediate release of undertrial prisoners eligible to benefit under Section 436A of the CrPc by establishing an Under Trial Review Committee (UTRC) in every district, recommended by a 2013 interim order.
 
A UTRC includes the District Judge, District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, collectively responsible for speedy trials and review of cases. "About 6,000 undertrial prisoners were released between July 1, 2015, and January 31, 2016. This is certainly a step in the right direction," Sen said.
 
However, those released were 2 per cent of undertrial prisoners in Indian jails. The pendency rate of IPC crimes -- 84 per cent and 86 per cent in 2014 and 2015, respectively -- shows how slow the process of change will be.
 
One of the major causes of high pendency is vacancies in lower courts. It would take a minimum of 12 years to clear the 25 million pending cases in Indian courts.
 
There is also little awareness among police and prison inmates about Section 436A of the CrPC. This section, which is a procedural mandate under CrPC, is often mistaken for an offence under IPC, according to Amnesty International.
 
Non-functional UTRCs, discrepancies in prison records, poor management of information systems, lack of effective legal aid and cancellation of trials due to shortage of police escorts and video conference facilities are factors that keep the number of undertrial prisoners in Indian jails high, reported Amnesty International.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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COMMENTS

Simple Indian

2 months ago

It's a shame that all the stakeholders of our legal system - the police, lawyers, and judges - are equally responsible for this despicable situation in our prisons. The snail-paced legal system of India is legendary, and one knows all too well, that a case filed in one's lifetime will be decided only when his/her grandchildren become adults. While criminal cases drag on for decades at times, civil cases being decided by judges within 10 years is unheard of. Justice delayed is justice denied is just a slogan which none of the stakeholders in our legal system take seriously. It's an open secret that only the rich and powerful manage to get verdicts (usually in their favour) while the poor and resourceless citizens languish in jails for years, with no means to pay for their bail bonds or sureties of even a few thousand rupees.

Deepak Narain

2 months ago

It is a matter of shame for all those authorities who have the power to improve this dismal position., e g, the executive, judiciary, police, etc.

Wi-Fi used most at Patna rly station, mostly to watch porn
Patna railway station tops the chart in terms of internet search using the free Wi-Fi service, though the maximum searches were for porn sites, a railway official said on Monday.
 
"More than any other railway station in the country, where free Wi-Fi service was launched, the Patna railway station is on the top in the country for using internet search, particularly serach for porn sites," an official of RailTel, a mini-Ratna public sector undertaking (PSU), said.
 
After Patna, Jaipur railway station is second to use internet search, followed by Bengaluru and New Delhi.
 
"It was revealed from our records of use of data by users," the official said.
 
Patna station, under Danapur Division of East Central Railway, is be the first station in Bihar to have free Wi-Fi facility. This railway station is one of the crowded ones with more than 200 trains passing through it daily.
 
According to RailTel officials, people are using free Wi-Fi for Youtube at Patna, followed by Wikipedia. "More than anything, porn sites have been watched and downloaded by the people at Patna railway station."
 
Some people have been using free Wi-Fi to download apps, and Bollywood and Hollywood films also.
 
At present, RailTel is providing 1 gigabite Wi-Fi at the Patna railway station but planning to increase to 10 gigabites due to slow speed of internet in view of more use of it by the passengers as well as youths, who regularly spend hours to enjoy free internet.
 
Free Wi-Fi service was launched last month at Patna, along with three more railway stations, across India. These stations are Patna in Bihar, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Ranchi in Jharkhand.
 
To date free Wi-FI facility has been launched at 23 railway stations in the country. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the government plans to introduce the service at all major railway stations in the country in the next three years.
 
"By this year-end, free Wi-Fi facility will be launched at 100 major railway stations. We will achieve our target of 400 stations in three years. Once in place, it will be the largest public Wi-Fi system in the world," Prabhu said.
 
The service was commissioned by RailTel, in association with Google, for providing high-speed internet to rail commuters at these places.
 
The service has been provided under 'Railwire', the retail broadband distribution model of Railtel.
 
Mumbai Central was the first railway station in the country to enjoy free Wi-Fi facility.
 
Last year, Google India and Indian Railways joined hands to introduce high-speed Wi-Fi network at 400 stations in the country.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Facebook signs up for EU's Privacy Shield data treaty
Social networking giant Facebook has agreed to adopt a new European Union (EU) data accord that allows personal information to be transferred to the US, potentially sparking yet another privacy row, the media reported.
 
Facebook has quietly signed the Privacy Shield -- a controversial treaty that allows US technology companies to transfer EU citizens' details abroad. It will apply to certain advertising data and its new Workplace service for businesses, the Telegraph UK reported on Saturday.
 
Privacy Shield, a replacement deal that was designed to provide extra safeguards for Europeans, came into force in July. Google and Microsoft have already adopted the treaty.
 
Facebook signed up at the end of September, although only two aspects of the social network use it. 
 
The first is Workplace, a special version of Facebook that allows company employees to communicate, which was launched last week.
 
The other is its "Ads and Measurement" technology that uses customer data supplied by other companies to target adverts.
 
Other user data is not covered by the treaty, although it can be transferred to the US under secondary legal measures, the report said.
 
"We have signed up two important parts of our business to the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework - Facebook at Work and our relevant Ads and Measurement services," a Facebook spokesman confirmed the report. 
 
Facebook's adoption of the treaty is significant because the prior US-EU agreement, Safe Harbour which was abolished by the European Court of Justice as a direct result of legal action against the social network by privacy campaigners. 
 
However, it is likely to lead to further scrutiny of the Privacy Shield deal from Facebook's critics, the report stated.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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