Out of the total prisoners lodged in the jails of the country, about 66 percent belong to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, OBCs. The information was given in the Rajya Sabha by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kishan Reddy in written reply to a question.
According to the Minister of State for Home, Reddy, “There are 4,78,600 inmates in the country’s jails out of which 3,15,409 inmates belong to SC, ST and OBC. These figures are based on the data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)”.
Reddy said that about 34 percent of the prisoners are from the OBC category, while about 21 percent are from the Scheduled Castes and 11 percent from the Scheduled Tribes. This figure is much higher than the population of these classes.
On the basis of gender, the number of male prisoners is about 96 percent and the number of female prisoners is just four percent. According to the data presented by the government, the maximum number of prisoners of SC and OBC categories are in the jails of Uttar Pradesh, while The jails of Madhya Pradesh have the highest number of prisoners of the Scheduled Tribe community.
In August last year, the NCRB released the figures for the year 2019, according to which the number of people belonging to Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim community in jails across the country is more than the proportion of their population in the country. Not only this, according to the NCRB data, the number of under-trial Muslim prisoners in the country’s jails is more than the convicted Muslim prisoners.
According to the report, till the end of 2019, 21.7 percent Dalits were lodged in jails across the country, while 21 percent of the undertrial prisoners in the jails were from scheduled castes. Although their total population is 16.6 percent in the census. In the case of tribals i.e. Scheduled Tribes, the difference between the population and the prisoners in jail is similar.
The ST community accounts for 13.6 per cent of the total convicted prisoners in the country, while 10.5 per cent of the jailed inmates from this community. The ST community constitutes 8.6 percent of the country’s total population in the national census. According to NCRB data, the Muslim community accounts for 14.2 per cent of the country’s population, while 16.6 per cent of the total inmates in jails belong to the Muslim community.
The Muslim community comprises 18.7 percent of the list of undertrials. According to statistics, the number and proportion of people belonging to the Muslim community in the case of undertrials is more than Dalits and Adivasis.
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Comparing the 2015 data of NCRB, it shows that the proportion of Muslim prisoners under consideration has decreased by the year 2019 but the percentage of convicts has increased. In 2015, where 21 percent of Muslim prisoners were under consideration in jails across the country, about 16 percent of the prisoners were found guilty.
Apart from the social statistics of the prisoners lodged in the jails, the condition of the country’s jails is also not very good and more prisoners are full of capacity in the jails. The biggest reason behind this is the closure of a large number of undertrials.
According to a report released two years ago on the state of prisons, there are a total of 1,361 prisons in India as of 31 December 2017, with a total capacity of 3,91,574 prisoners. But more than the capacity in these jails, that is, 4,50,696 prisoners are closed. Not only this, according to the report, between 2015 and 2017, the total number of jails at the national level has also decreased by 2.85%. While the number of jails in the year 2015 was 1,401, in the year 2017 it has reduced to just 1,361. But during this period, the number of prisoners continued to increase.