More than 1,500 prisoners lodged in different jails across the country have lost their lives, which included 60 women inmates.
According to a data by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), out of the total of 1,527 deaths between 2008-09 a majority of them were 1,467 men.
A highest of 287 deaths have been reported from Uttar Pradesh, 133 from Bihar and 131 from Andhra Pradesh, the data said. Jails in Maharashtra have reported 124 deaths, followed by 98 in West Bengal and 86 in Madhya Pradesh.
A total of 74 deaths have been reported in Gujarat, 72 in Karnataka, 70 in Punjab and 69 from Tamil Nadu, the data said.
Officials said more than 90 per cent of them were natural deaths. “The main reasons for the remaining deaths were suicide, murder by inmate, assault by outside elements and death due to firing and negligence by jail personnel,” a Home Ministry official said.
A total of 1,787 deaths, including 1,735 male and 52 female were reported during 2007-08. While in 2006-07, 1,443 men and 34 female lost their lives inside the prisons.
According to the NHRC guidelines, all State governments have been directed to report deaths, whether natural or otherwise, in police and judicial custody within 24 hours of their occurrence.
The Commission also holds workshops, seminars and interactions with different State authorities to sensitise them for better protection of human rights.
According to the data, three deaths each have been witnessed in jails in Meghalaya and Nagaland, two each in Goa and Puducherry, one each in Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. No deaths have been reported in Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep and Sikkim.
An official data for 2007 compiled by National Crime Record Bureau suggests that more than 1,200 jails in countries were reported to be overcrowded.
A total of 1,276 prisons in different States and Union Territories with a total capacity of 2,77,304 prisoners had a total of 3,76,396 people i.e. 99,092 more than their capacity, the data said.