Eight out of 10 prisoners across India were awaiting trial in 2021, the latest India Justice Report said.

The report made the observation after analysing the Prisons Statistics India report 2021, which was released last month.

According to the report, out of the 5.54 lakh prisoners in India, 77% or 4.27 lakh were under trial.

“With the exception of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Tripura, the undertrial population of all other states exceed 60%,” the report said. “Delhi’s prisons house 91% undertrials, i.e., 9 out of 10 prisoners await completion of their trial.”

It added that 24,033 undertrials have been in jails for three to five years, while 11,490 have been confined for over five years. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra had the highest number in this context.

Out of the total undertrials in the country, 21.08% belonged to Scheduled Caste, 9.88% to Scheduled Tribes and 18% were Muslims.

Source: India Justice Report

The occupancy rate of the prison also increased from 120% in 2020 to 130% in 2021. This means that prisons had 5,54,034 inmates, a lakh more than their capacity of 4,25,609.

“With the onset of the second wave of the pandemic, and fresh directions to limit arrests and decongest prisons, only 93,526 inmates were released in 17 states/UTs between March and July 2021,” the report said. “Yet, as of December 2021, nineteen out of thirty-six states and union territories had overcrowding ranging from 185% in Uttarakhand – the highest, to 100.2% in Rajasthan.”

Chief Editor of the India Justice Report Maja Daruwala said that the problem of overcrowding in prisons requires immediate attention.

“Given the intention of governments to move strongly in the direction of rehabilitation there will have to be much greater investment in infrastructure, human resources and their training as well as to developing prison industry and skill building,” he said. “The problem of overcrowding has to be sorted as a priority.”