Poor State of Undertrials - IE - 13/12/22

Recently, the Indian President has raised the issue of the plight of a large number of undertrials holed up in the prisons.
Undertrials: An undertrial is a person who is currently on trial or who is imprisoned on remand whilst awaiting trial or a person who is on a trial in a court of law.
The 78th Report of Law Commission also includes a person who is in judicial custody on remand during investigation in the definition of an ‘undertrial’.

-->Status of Undertrials in India:
As per NCRB (National Crime Report Bureau), over the last 10 years, the number of undertrials in jails has risen constantly and peaked in 2021.
In 2020, about 76% of all prison inmates in the country were undertrials, of which about 68% were either illiterate or school dropouts.
Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) were found to have the highest ratio of undertrials in jails at 91%, followed by Bihar and Punjab at 85%, and Odisha at 83%.

1.Resourceless Prisoners
2.Violence and Abuses in jail
3.Health problems
4.Suffering of the Families and Social Stigma

Constitutional protection:
-State Subject: 'Prisons/persons detained therein' is a State subject under Entry 4 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.

-Article 39A: Article 39A of the Constitution directs the State to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

-Article 21: It forms the basis of reasonable, fair and just liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which says, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.

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