Prison Reform in India: Key Issues

Prison Reform in India: Key Issues

Question: More than 2 years after Union Home Ministry’s Advisory to States and UTs and 8 months since the SC kicked off the process of releasing under-trials who have undergone half their jail term in prison, many remain in detention. Discuss the key issues in prison reform in India.

• Two thirds of the total number of jailed persons in Indian prisons are under-trials

• Many are too poor to afford bail bonds or provide sureties

• Many cases are compoundable yet benefits of compounding have not been extended to the under trials

• Under trial review committee comprising District Judge, DM and Superintendent of Police has to be set up in each district- Onus has been put on NALSA(National Legal Services Authority) but not much has been done

• Criminal Procedure Code was amended in 2005 to prevent overcrowding in prisons ; last year SC also asked session judges and magistrates to visit prisons and identify under trials languishing for long periods; these measures have not yielded results

• There is inadequate legal aid and advice to poor prisoners

• Legal services authorities in numerous states have not been able to create awareness among prisoners regarding their rights

• Legal process is long and time consuming

• Solutions such as expediting the trial process remain difficult to implement

• Though under trials have a right to speedy trial, course of justice prevents it

Facts and Stats

• Each court has average of 22,000 hearings a week, according to research organisation Daksh

• Each judge hears close to 70 cases in a day or 350 in a week; judge takes 6 minutes on an average to hear each case

• It takes between 1000 to 1,600 days for case to be disposed of; this extends to around 3 to 5 years per case

• The total number of cases in 10 HCs is 5,66,000 while the number of hearings is 26,87,362

• In some courts, around 2000 new cases are admitted each day for disposal

• Oldest case is one in Jharkhand HC which has been going on since January 1958

• On an average, 70 cases are heard by the judge in a day
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