The Proliferation of Undertrials in Indian Jails

The Indian prisons are overcrowded with prisoners. But does that means the rate of crimes committed in India is also increasing? The answer is no. The crime rate is not yet a major concern in the country unlike India’s judicial system. The majority of the inmates who languish in Indian prisons are not convicted of any crime or offence by any judicial court. In fact they are yet to be convicted and are under trial. The population of undertrials exceed the number of convicted prisoners in Indian jails.

It is against the laws of the constitution to detain an individual for long periods of time without trial. Free legal aid and speedy delivery of justice are the fundamental rights of all the citizens of India. However, most of the undertrial prisoners in Indian jails are unaware of their fundamental rights as they are poor and illiterate. The reports by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) says that the majority of the undertrials are from socio-economic backward classes of the society. Most of them belong to the SC, ST and OBC categories. They are so poor that they could not even afford their bail fees.

The hiking number of undertrial prisoners depicts the flaws of the Indian judicial system. An accused spend years in judicial custodies before their cases are heard in any judicial court. Their case remains pending and goes on for a period which often exceeds their period of imprisonment when they are convicted by law. It also happens that an accused is proven innocent by a court after being kept in imprisonment for years before their hearing commences.

People coming from socio-economically weaker sections of the society had to suffer for the slow and lethargic justice delivery system of India because they could neither afford their bail fees nor a good lawyer. Most of them are also young and falls in the age group of 18-20 years. They ruin some valuable years of their life in prison for minor offences or sometime without committing any offence. The damage to their life, career and reputation are irrevocable. The Indian legal and judicial system should be accountable and compensate these unfortunate specimen of humankind who are mere victims of India’s slow justice delivery system.