Access to Justice

Access to Justice

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Please click here to access the key facts of the India Justice Report 2019 (released in November, 2019), which has been prepared by Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, DAKSH, Tata Institute of Social Sciences - Prayas and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and supported by Tata Trusts. Please click here to access the full version of India Justice Report 2019.

Based on data and statistics from the NCRB and various other sources (including RTI applications), Amnesty International India has come out with a report. The key findings of the report entitled Justice Under Trial: A study of pre-trial detention in India (July 2017), are as follows (please click here to access):

• The briefing, “Justice Under Trial: A study of pre-trial detention in India”, analyzes the responses to about 3000 Right to Information (RTI) applications filed by Amnesty International India to the nearly 500 district and central prisons in the country on the implementation of safeguards to protect the rights of pre-trial detainees, or ‘undertrials’.

• It has been found through RTI applications that two out of three people in India’s prisons are undertrials, and this proportion has not budged for several years despite various Supreme Court judgments.

• The briefing reveals a severe shortage across many states of police ‘escorts’ to take undertrials to court for their hearings. Between September 2014 and February 2015, in over 110,000 instances, undertrials were not produced for their hearings in court either in person or through video-conferencing facilities, in effect hampering their right to trial within a reasonable time.

• RTI data revealed glaring gaps in the legal aid system. In most states, legal aid lawyers visited prisons less than once a month. Many states have relatively few legal aid lawyers, compared to their undertrial populations. 5% of jails reported having no legal aid lawyers at all.

• Prison authorities in several states also appeared to have a poor understanding of section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which was introduced in 2005 to prevent undertrials from being held in pre-trial detention for more than half the sentence they would receive if convicted. Directives issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2013 to reduce overcrowding of jails were also not properly followed. Only 38% of prisons which responded to RTI applications produced minutes of the meetings of Undertrial Review Committees.

• As of December 2015, 67% of prisoners in India’s prisons were ‘undertrials’ – people who were awaiting trial or whose trials were still ongoing, and who have not been convicted. In other words, there are twice as many undertrials in India’s prisons as there are convicts.

• India’s undertrial population has a disproportionate number of Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis. About 53% of undertrials are from these communities, which make up 39% share of the population of India. 29% of undertrials are not formally literate, while 42% had not completed secondary education. A quarter of all undertrials have been in prison for more than a year.

• Most prisons in India are overcrowded, partly as a result of excessive undertrial detention. The average occupancy rate in Indian prisons is 114%, and is as high as 233.9% in states such as Chhattisgarh.


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