Human Rights

Human Rights

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According to the Prison Statistics 2006, National Crime Records Bureau

 A total of 1,423 prisoners died in jails due to natural and unnatural causes during 2006 in the country out of which 1,343 were natural deaths and 80 were due to unnatural causes

 Deaths due to murder by inmates were reported only from Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka (1 each).

 Uttar Pradesh (3,101) has reported the highest number of inmates detained for a period of 2 to 3 years followed by Bihar (2,565). Meghalaya has reported the highest percentage (9.6%) undertrial prisoners kept in custody for 2 to 3 years followed by Nagaland (7.7%), Jharkhand (7.2%) and Uttaranchal (7.1%).

 Uttar Pradesh has reported the highest (8,886) number of undertrial prisoners detained for a period of 6 months to 1 year followed by Bihar (8,076).

 1,569 undertrials were reported languishing in jails for 5 years or more in different parts of the country.

 The percentage of undertrial prisoners to the total prisoners in jails is 65.7 percent in the country and the share of convicted prisoners is 31.3 percent

 The highest percentage (28.0%) of undertrials were charged with Murder. Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of (9,936) such Undertrials (18.5%) followed by Bihar 8,102 (15.1%).

 1,569 Undertrials (0.6% of total undertrials) were detained in jails for more than 5 years at the end of the year 2006. Punjab had the highest number of such undertrials (377) followed by Bihar (356).

 347 Convicts including 8 females lodged in different jails of the country at the end of 2006 were awarded capital punishment.

 62,180 Convicts accounting for 53.3% of total Convicts in the country were undergoing sentences for Life Imprisonment at the end of the year 2006.

 13,084 Convicts were repeat/recidivists, which accounted for 5.1% of total convicts admitted during the year.

 64 convicted prisoners were in the age group of 16-18 years, 44,371 in the age group of 18 to 30 years, 56,479 convicts were in the age group of 30 to 50 years and 15,761 convicts were 50 years or more.

 567 undertrial prisoners were in the age group of 16-18 years, 1,06,335 in the age group of above 18 to 30 years, 1,09,039 undertrials were in the age group of above 30 to 50 years and 29,303 undertrials were 50 years or more.



According to the Annual Report 2004-05, National Human Rights Commission,

Custodial deaths

 In keeping with the guidelines issued by the Commission, the State Government Authorities have been reporting all deaths in custody, police as well as judicial, natural or otherwise, to the Commission. In the year 2004-2005, out of 1493 custodial deaths reported to the Commission, 136 deaths in police custody and 1,357 deaths in judicial custody.

 There was, however, an increase in the deaths in police custody in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Delhi, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal.

 In the light of the revised guidelines issued by the Commission on 2 December, 2003, 122 intimations were received from the various State Governments about killings in encounters during the year 2004-2005. These included 66 such intimations from the State of Uttar Pradesh, 18 intimations from Andhra Pradesh, 9 from Delhi and 5 each from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Separately, the Commission also received 84 complaints about alleged killings in fake encounters.

Population of prisoners

 The total prison population was 3,36,151, which indicated an overcrowding of 41.47% against the authorised capacity of 2,37,617. 11 States/ UTs, namely, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi experienced overcrowding ranging from 52% to 224%.

 Delhi continues to hold the most overcrowded jails (224%) followed by Jharkhand (195%) Chhattisgarh (111%) and Gujarat (104%). Jails had idle capacities in 6 States and 4 Union Territories, namely Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, West Bengal, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshdeep

 Undertrial prisoners constituted 71.14% of the total prison population in the country. 11 States/UTs have undertrial prisoners exceeding 80% of the total prison population. These are: Dadra & Nagar Haveli (100%), Meghalaya (94.71%), Manipur (92.51%), Jammu & Kashmir (88.90%), Bihar (85.66%), Daman & Diu (84.15%), Nagaland (83.31%), Uttar Pradesh (82.47%), Delhi (81.45%), Chandigarh (80.42%) and West Bengal (80.20%). Chhattisgarh is the only State, which has less than 50% undertrial prisoners (48.57%).

 Women constituted 3.97% of the total prison population in the country. Uttaranchal (11.69%) tops the list followed by Mizoram (10.45%), Tamil Nadu (9.25%), Chandigarh (6.47%), Andhra Pradesh (5.77%), West Bengal (5.71%) and Punjab (5.68%).

 A total of 1544 children were in jails with their mothers. U.P. with 385 accounted for the largest, followed by West Bengal (163), Maharashtra (143), Jharkhand (142) and Madhya Pradesh (127).

Human rights abuse

 The total number of cases registered in the Commission during 2004-2005 was 74,401, while the corresponding figure for the year 2003-2004 was 72,990. Of the cases that were registered during the year under review, 72,775 cases were complaints of alleged human rights violations besides 1500 cases related to intimations of custodial deaths, 4 cases of custodial rapes and 122 related to police encounters.

 Of the custodial deaths that were reported in the course of the year 2004-2005, 7 deaths allegedly occurred in the custody of defence / para-military forces, 136 deaths occurred in police custody, while 1357 in judicial custody.

 As in the past, the largest number of complaints registered was from the State of Uttar Pradesh; they numbered 44,351 or 59.6 percent of the total number of complaints registered by the Commission. Delhi followed Uttar Pradesh, with 5,221 complaints while Bihar coming third with 3,917 complaints.

According to Torture in India 2008-A State of Denial, which has been brought out by the Asian Centre for Human Rights ( 

 There exist serious weaknesses in institutions that should check torture in India. The Courts have proven a powerful tool against torture but are hampered by lack of specific legislation, immunities offered under the Criminal Procedure Code and national security laws as well as the more general problem of judicial delay.

 In 2006-2007, the NHRC received a total of 1,597 custodial death cases including 118 cases in police custody, 1,477 cases in judicial custody and two cases in the custody of defense and paramilitary forces.

 In 2005-2006, the NHRC received 1,575 custodial deaths including 124 in police custody and 1,451 in judicial custody. In 2004-2005, NHRC received 1,493 cases of custodial deaths including 136 deaths in police custody and 1, 357 deaths in judicial custody.

 In 2003-2004, there were 1,340 custodial death cases including 183 in police custody and 1,157 in judicial custody. In 2002-2003, NHRC received 1,463 custodial death cases including 162 deaths in police custody and 1,300 deaths in judicial custody, one death in the custody of para-military forces. The statistics of NHRC imply that in the last five years 7,468 persons at an average of 1,494 persons per year or four person in a day died in police and prison custody in India. However, these figures represent only a fraction of the actual cases of torture. Cases of torture not resulting in death are not recorded. They do not differentiate between deaths in custody resulting from legitimate causes, for example old age, and due to the use of torture. Moreover, the NHRC has no mandate to investigate or record human rights violations perpetrated by military and para-military forces. NHRC often reports that there were no custodial deaths resulting from torture in the conflict-afflicted state of Manipur or in Jammu and Kashmir. This assertion lies uneasily with the high levels of well-documented cases in those states.

 A large number of reported cases of torture and custodial death result from attempts to extract a confession relating to theft or other petty offences. Clearly this suggests that the suspects belonging to the lower economic and social strata are particularly vulnerable.

According to India Human Rights Report, 2008, which has been brought out by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (

 In 2007, 29,596 cases on alienation and restoration of tribal lands were heard by the courts in Madhya Pradesh. Not a single case was ruled in favour of the tribal groups.

 “Encounter killing” is yet another euphemism used to hide extrajudicial executions. It presupposes an armed encounter. The fact that out of 301 complaints of “encounter deaths” between 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007, over 66% (201 cases) were received by NHRC from Uttar Pradesh alone – which has no armed conflict - is extremely disturbing.

 In 2007 the NCRB reported that 139 people died in police custody. 23 people died during production, process of the courts and the journey connected with investigation; 38 of them died during their hospitalization and treatment; 9 died in mob attacks/riots; 2 were killed by other criminals; 31 committed suicide; 7 escaped and 29 died from illness/ natural causes.

Rural Expert

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