Jails overflow as inmates pile up

Updated: Mar 18, 2012, 23:10 PM IST

Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Indian jails are bursting at the seams with occupancy levels as high as 237 percent in Chhattisgarh raising a big question mark over human rights track record of the country. The grim scenario is all pervasive cutting across party, political and geographical lines.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis of home ministry data shows the overall country deficit at 15 percent with the only positive indicator in the otherwise grim scenario being the year-on-year decline in the scary gap between available human strength and occupancy level in jails in India.

The ZRG study of recently released report of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) on prison statistics in India (2010) reveals that among all states Chhattisgarh has reported the highest jail occupancy at the rate of 237 percent followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 227 percent and Uttar Pradesh as the third worst state with a jail occupancy level of 182.5 percent. Delhi and Lakshadweep fared no better with an occupancy rate of 173.7 percent and 168.11 percent respectively.

The overall gap in number of jail inmates and availability stood at 48548 at the end of 2010. However, the overall gap in availability of jails and jail inmate’s population has shown slight improvement in last five years. In 2006, the overall gap in number of jail availability and jail inmate’s population was 1, 09, 360, which slipped to 48, 548 in 2010. From 2006 onwards every year an improvement has been recorded in the overall gap between availability of jails and jail inmate population with the overflow being at about 15 percent at last count.

Tamil Nadu, four other small states and union territories were reported by NCRB as the best states where availability of jails inmates was much more than the population of inmates. While Daman and Diu reported an all India best occupancy level of 25 percent, Nagaland and Manipur followed at 37.5 percent and 63.7 percent respectively. Chandigarh and Tamil Nadu also did well, where the occupancy rate stood at 64 percent and 66.2 per cent respectively.