Speedy trial can become effective tool to address overcrowding in jails: Supreme Court [31.8.2023]

The lodging areas of prisons across the country presented a "pitiful state of affairs", the Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms has said, underlining that speedy trial can become an effective tool to address the issue of overcrowding in jails.

In its final synopsis of reports filed in the Supreme Court, the committee headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) Amitava Roy has said living conditions in jails are not comparable to those envisaged under the Model Prison Manual, 2016 and require urgent and result-oriented attention.

It said the occupancy rate of a total of 1,341 jails in India, including 644 sub-jails, 402 district jails and others prisons stood at 122 per cent as on November 30, 2018.

The panel has referred to some commonly experienced factors contributing to overcrowding in jails, including stagnancy of prison infrastructure against steady increase in inmate flow, lack of initiative and drive of expansion or improvement in prison infrastructure, avoidable arrests and incarceration for petty offences, delay in investigation and trial.

It said 12 states were selected for study in the first preliminary report on overcrowding in prisons and, according to the findings, the highest rate of overcrowding was observed in district prisons (148 per cent) followed by central prisons (129 per cent) and sub-prisons (106 per cent).

The final synopsis of reports dated December 27, 2022 contains nine chapters, including on overcrowding in prisons, unnatural deaths in jails, transgender prisoners and death row convicts.

01 Sep 2023