Liberal bail system adopted by courts
Only 3.2 per cent of the people arrested for various crimes are in prison given the “liberal bail system” adopted by courts, according to the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), New Delhi.
Making a presentation on ‘Problems of overcrowding in prisons in India' at an all-India conference of DG/IG of Prisons here on Saturday, B.V. Trivedi, Deputy Director, BPR&D, said: “As much as 96.8 per cent of those arrested for various crimes committed are outside jails.”
The conference resolved to impress upon the Chief Justices of High Courts to direct State governments to arrange videoconference facilities for hearing cases by courts and early release of under-trials who have been languishing in jails for years.
Noting that 66.4 per cent of inmates in jails were under-trials, he said women inmates constituted only 4 per cent of the total inmates. Thirty-one persons per one lakh population are in jail.
Overcrowding of prisons
Overcrowding of prisons was a major problem in all States, particularly in Lakshadweep and Chhattisgarh. Overcrowding led to spread of diseases among prisoners and problems in management of prisons, he said.
The main reasons for the overcrowding of prisons in Chhattisgarh were non-functioning of jails, after the State was carved out from Madhya Pradesh, and concentration of naxal activities. The Chhattisgarh government had utilised Rs. 13.5 crore for modernisation of jails, said an official of that State.
As per the modernisation plan of the Centre, Central, district and sub-jails can accommodate 1,000, 500 and 250 prisoners each.
C.N. Gopinath Reddy, Director, Prisons, Andhra Pradesh, said: “Prisons should be used as a last resort.” Unfortunately, a high percentage of prisoners committed petty offences and landed in jails.
Mr. Reddy urged the heads of prisons of all States to approach the Chief Justices of the High Courts to direct their governments to set up videoconference facilities to expedite hearing of cases.
“Prison officials will get sympathy from the judiciary. Maintain good rapport with judicial officials and hold videoconferences,” Mr. Reddy said, and his idea was supported by other delegates.
K.V. Gagandeep, ADGP and IG Prisons, Karnataka, said the State's Prison Department was unable to undertake repair works of prisons since the Public Works Department took up repair works. Some of the sub-jails in the State were also under the control of Tahsildars, he said.
‘Stop dual control'
Mr. Reddy said dual control of prisons should end and all prisons should fall under the jurisdiction of the Prison Department.