HYDERABAD, TNN : Indian jails are over-crowded. While the available capacity is 3, 43,169, the total inmate populationis much higher at 3, 85,135. That would make the occupancy rate 112.2 per cent.

While there is not a single prisoner in the Union territory of Lakshadweep island prison which has an inmate capacity of 16, the situation was reverse in Chhattisgarh sate, according to prison statistics available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

In Chhattisgarh state, while the available capacity of the prisons is 5,850, there is a total of 14,780 prisoners stuff in the jails. This only means the occupancy rate is as high as 252.6 per cent. There are also other states where the jails were overcrowded in the year 2012, going by the figures with the NCRB.

Though the capacity of jails in Delhi is 6,250, the total number of prisoners in them was 12,113, which is 193.8 per cent occupancy. In Uttar Pradesh jails, there were 80,311 prisoners in accommodation meant for only 47,518 prisoners. The occupancy was 169 per cent. In Punjab, 23,219 prisoners occupied space meant for only 17,410 and the occupancy rate is calculated at 133.4 per cent.

Several other prisons too were overcrowded. These included Meghalaya (131.3%), Madhya Pradesh (127.7%), Arunachal Pradesh (126.8%), Jharkhand (124.5 %), Goa (119.5%), Rajasthan (116.6%), Sikkim (114 %), Himachal Pradesh (105.5%), Kerala (104.4%), Assam (103.7%), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (101.5 per cent), West Bengal (100.7%) and Karnataka (100.3%).

Women prisoners too had to adjust with the overcrowding problem in Uttarakhand (153.6%), Chhattisgarh (150.3%), Delhi (135%), Goa (112%), Jharkhand (106.9%) and Uttar Pradesh (102.8%).

Though the NCRB did not specify the reasons for overcrowding of prisons, the reasons could be several. It is learnt that many languish in prisons without getting bail in the court. There are also many instances where though the court does grant bail, the prisoner finds it difficult to get sureties on his behalf. Since the sureties would be responsible if the accused jumps bail, they back out of standing surety for their friends or even family members. There can also be cases where the court will let off the prisoner with a fine but the accused may not even have the money to pay it and come out of jail.

Overcrowding in prisons leads to infectious diseases spreading in the jail. It is the responsibility of the government to provide space as per international norms for prisoners.



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