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Report No. 268

B. Statistical data and analysis

1.9 The data collected regarding prison population in India represents a grim scenario. It indicates that 67 per cent of the prison population is awaiting trial in India. Inconsistency in bail system may be one of the reasons for the over-crowding of prisons across the country and giving rise to another set of challenges to the Prison Administration and 'State' thereto. Freedoms as guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution has a unique relation with the ideas and objectives enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of India i.e. Justice - economic, social and political. It remains one of the solemn duty of the republic and its realisation in its full sense is one of the cherished goal.

It has become a norm than an aberration in most jurisdictions including India that the powerful, rich and influential obtain bail promptly and with ease, whereas the mass/ common / the poor languishes in jails.6 Thus, it is one of the malaise which is affecting the common citizens and family thereto, which not only deny the basic tenets of 'justice' but even human dignity is at stake. A majority of under-trials (70.6 per cent) are illiterate or semi-literate.7 In the absence of data regarding economic status of prisoners, 'literacy' serves as a useful proxy to appreciate that, the majority of under-trials belong to the socio-economically marginalized groups.

1.10 Various reports from the Ministry of Home Affairs show that a total of 2,31,340 under-trial prisoners from various States and Union Territories were lodged in jails for committing crimes under Indian Penal Code (IPC), and 50,457 were under-trials under special laws, e.g. Customs Act of 1962, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985, Excise Act of 1944, etc.8. A large number of 12,92,357 under-trials were released during 2015 out of which 11,57,581 were released on bail.9

1.11 The right of a fair trial requires moderation not only to the person accused of an offence, but also consideration of the public and society at large as represented by the State. It must also instill public confidence in the criminal justice system, including those close to the accused person, and those affected by the crime.10 Imprisonment rates widely varies around the world; for instance, the incarceration rate in US is 707 per 100,000 of the national population, while in India it is 33 per 100,000 of the national population.11 Thus, even after adjusting for different factors and indices, it may be surmised that India has one of the lowest imprisonment rates.

Total Population* Prison Population* % Population in Prison % World Prison Population % World population
United States 296 2.19 0.74 23.68 4.36
United Kingdom 54 0.08 0.15 0.86 0.8
China 1554 1.55 0.1 16.76 22.89
Russia 142 0.87 0.61 9.41 2.09
India 1092 0.33 0.03 3.57 16.08
Brazil 361 0.19 0.05 2.05 5.32

*Population in Millions.

Table 1: Comparison of Prison Population

Source: World Prison Brief, Institute for Criminal Policy

1.12 Despite increase in crime rate for a given decade, the rate of incarceration has remained unchanged (see Fig. 1 above). In quantitative comparative indices, India ranks higher than many countries of the world in terms of its low incarceration rates. There may be various reasons for the findings. Despite low incarceration rates, it is reflected from Table 2 below that the percentage of bail being granted is far lower than ideal, it shows that a mere 28 percent of the person accused of an offence have been granted bail.

Special Laws IPC
Total number of persons arrested 4,8,57,230 3,6,36,596
Total number of persons charge-sheeted 4,7,27,419 3,2,99,161
Total number of persons in custody 74,139 2,94,857
Total number of persons granted bail 3,20,392 1,0,18,760

Table 2: Tabular representation of disposal of cases

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

1.13 It certainly remains one of the vexed question to map the socio- economic impact of the 'Right to Bail - its grant or Refusal' by the appropriate authority. However, the certain inalienable guidelines and streamlining certain procedures would further make the legal process more humane and subservient to the idea of fundamental liberty, justice and good governance. Statistical information provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (hereinafter NCRB) recognizes the importance of questioning the operations of the bail system in India.

Amendments to Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 - Provisions relating to Bail Back

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