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RIGHTS OF UNDER TRIAL
PRISONERS
BY : ABHEET MANGLEEK
WHO ARE UNDER-TRIAL
PRISONERS?
• Under-Trial Prisoners are unconvicted prisoners.
• In layman’s language, when an accused is kept in judicial
custody (jail) during the period of investigation, inquiry or
trial of the offence for which he was arrested, he can be called
an Under-Trial Prisoner.
STATISTICS RELATED TO
UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS
• More than three-fourths of India’s jail inmates are undertrial
prisoners, according to data released by the National Crime
Records Bureau (NCRB).
• Of the 5,54,034 prisoners, 4,27,165 or 77%, were undertrials in
2021. This was a 14.9 percent increase from 3,71,848 undertrial
prisoners in 2020.
REASONS FOR SO MANY
UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS
• Indiscriminate arrests: The police arrest people even when they
cooperate with the investigation and are not likely to evade trial resulting
in unnecessary detentions.
• Failure to furnish Bail: Right to bail is denied even in genuine cases due
to inability of prisoners to pay the bail amount as many of them are poor.
• Lack of use of provisions: Most prisoners are not only unaware of their
right to seek release but also too poor to furnish surety.
PROBLEMS FACED BY
UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS
• There is no separate prison for undertrials, so with hardened criminals, there is a chance of first time
and circumstantial offenders to turn into criminals.
• Prisons are often a dangerous place for the first-time offenders who are subjected to group violence and
mishandling by the police.
• Due to overcrowding in the prison and shortage of adequate space to lodge prisoners, most of the prisons
face problems to keep them in safe and healthy conditions.
• Undertrial prisoners also face homosexual abuse as prisons are places where same-sex people are lodged.
• Due to long absence of the main bread winner, family of the under-trial prisoner many a time is forced into
destitution and also faces social stigmatization.
RIGHTS OF UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS
• Judiciary in every country has an obligation to protect Human Rights of citizens. As per
the Constitution of India, this function is assigned to the superior judiciary namely the
Supreme Court of India and the High Courts.
• The undertrial prisoners also have their rights. The Supreme Court of India, by
interpreting Article 21 of the Constitution, has developed human rights jurisprudence for
the preservation and protection of undertrial prisoners’ rights to maintain human dignity.
• In addition to this, the question of cruelty to prisoners is also dealt with specifically by
The Prisons Act, 1894 and The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).
RIGHT TO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Fundamental rights which are provided by Part - III of the Indian
Constitution are the first and the foremost rights which are
enjoyed by the Undertrials prisoners during the trials. The most
important among which is Article 14 i.e. Right to Equality, which
reads as “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the
law or the equal protection of laws within the territory of India.”
RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY
Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides that “No person shall
be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to
procedure established by law”. The right to life and personal liberty is
the back bone of the Human Rights in India. By giving a liberal and
comprehensive meaning to “life and personal liberty,” the Indian
Judiciary has formulated and has established plethora of rights.
RIGHT TO BAIL
• Section 436A of the CrPC provides for the release of the accused on bail on his
own surety if he has served half of the maximum term prescribed for that offence
for which death is not one of the prescribed punishments. In such cases also the
prosecution should be heard and on recording the reasons, the court may order
continued detention beyond one half of the said maximum punishment.
• Also, such person shall not be detained during the period of investigation, inquiry
or trial for more than the maximum period of imprisonment as given for the said
offence under the law.
RIGHT TO DEFAULT BAIL
It is a release on bail on the default of the prosecution in filing charge-sheet
within the prescribed period. The right to bail under Section 167(2) proviso
(a) of the CrPC is absolute. If the investigating agency fails to file charge-
sheet before the expiry of 90 days (where offence is punishable with death,
imprisonment for life or imprisonment for 10 years or more) or 60 days
(where offence is punishable with imprisonment for less than 10 years or
fine) as the case may be, the accused in custody shall be released on bail.
RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL
• It is absolutely necessary that the persons accused of offences should be speedily
tried so that in cases where the bail is refused, the accused persons do not have to
remain in jail longer than is absolutely necessary. The right to speedy trial has
become a universally recognized human right
• Section 437(6) of the CrPC provides that if the accused is in detention and the trial
is not completed within 60 days from the first date fixed for taking evidence, then
he shall be released on bail. But this rule is applicable only in case of trial by a
Magistrate.
• The Supreme Court in A.R. Antulay vs. R.S. Nayak held that the right to speedy
trial flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution is available to the accused at all
stages like investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal, revision and retrial.
RIGHT TO FAIR TRIAL
The fair trial is the foremost requirement of criminal proceedings and it is
utmost right of an undertrial prisoner. Fair Trial is the main object of
criminal procedure and such fairness should not be hampered in any manner.
Fair Trial entails the interests of the accused, the victim and of the society.
Thus, fair trial must be accorded to every accused in the spirit of right to life
and personal liberty and the accused must get a free and fair, just and
reasonable trial on the charge framed in a criminal case.
RIGHT TO CONSULT A LEGAL
PRACTITIONER
Article 22 (1) of the Constitution provides that no person who is arrested
shall be denied the right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner
of his choice. This right of the accused is fundamental and essential to fair
trial. The right is recognized because ordinarily an accused person does not
have the knowledge of law and the professional skill to defend himself
before a court of law. Section 303 of the CrPC also confers this right on an
accused person.
RIGHT TO FREE LEGALAID
• Article 39A of the Constitution provides for the free legal aid. This
article ensures that access to justice is not denied to anyone because
of economic or other disabilities.
• The Parliament enacted Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 under
which legal aid is guaranteed and governments have established
Legal Services Authorities to give effect to Article 39A.
• Section 304 of the CrPC also provides that where the accused is not
represented by a pleader, the Court of Session shall assign a pleader
for his defence at the expense of the State.
RIGHT AGAINST INHUMAN
TREATMENT
• Undertrial prisoners have the right to be treated with dignity, and not be
tortured or subjected to any form of inhuman treatment. To this end, they are
not allowed to be handcuffed while being transferred from prison to court
unless valid reasons can be provided for the same.
• Human Rights are part and parcel of human dignity. The Supreme Court of
India in various cases has taken a serious note of the inhuman treatment on
prisoners and has issued appropriate directions to prison authorities for
safeguarding the rights of the prisoners.
RIGHT TO SECURITY OF LIFE
• It is the duty of the State to provide security to the undertrial prisoners. If it
fails to do so and any incident takes place inside the jail, then the State has
to pay compensation to the dependents of the deceased person.
• The decision of the Supreme Court in the case of D.K. Basu vs. State of
West Bengal is noteworthy. The court concentrated on the problem of
custodial torture and issued a number of directions to eradicate this evil,
for better protection and promotion of Human Rights.
CONCLUSION
• Undertrial prisoners are those who have been accused of some crime and waiting
for their trial to be concluded in the court. They cannot be called convicts
because their guilt has not been proved.
• A huge majority of undertrial prisoners are poor who are unable to furnish bail
for their release. They are not made aware about their legal rights i.e. the right to
free legal aid, the right to get the legal practitioner of their choice, the right to
bail etc.
• They live in a disturbing conditions in jail, don’t have access to adequate medical
care and are tortured and exploited. Detention of the undertrials not only violates
their right to liberty but also amounts to denial of human rights to these people
who need protection, care and consideration of law and criminal justice system.
• The number of undertrials in prison can be reduced only by speeding up the trial,
simplifying of the bail procedure and by periodic review of the cases of
undertrials. Moreover, there should a separate prison for undertrial prisoners.
CONCLUSION
THANK YOU !

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Rights of under-trial Prisoners in India

  • 1. RIGHTS OF UNDER TRIAL PRISONERS BY : ABHEET MANGLEEK
  • 2. WHO ARE UNDER-TRIAL PRISONERS? • Under-Trial Prisoners are unconvicted prisoners. • In layman’s language, when an accused is kept in judicial custody (jail) during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial of the offence for which he was arrested, he can be called an Under-Trial Prisoner.
  • 3. STATISTICS RELATED TO UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS • More than three-fourths of India’s jail inmates are undertrial prisoners, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). • Of the 5,54,034 prisoners, 4,27,165 or 77%, were undertrials in 2021. This was a 14.9 percent increase from 3,71,848 undertrial prisoners in 2020.
  • 4. REASONS FOR SO MANY UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS • Indiscriminate arrests: The police arrest people even when they cooperate with the investigation and are not likely to evade trial resulting in unnecessary detentions. • Failure to furnish Bail: Right to bail is denied even in genuine cases due to inability of prisoners to pay the bail amount as many of them are poor. • Lack of use of provisions: Most prisoners are not only unaware of their right to seek release but also too poor to furnish surety.
  • 5. PROBLEMS FACED BY UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS • There is no separate prison for undertrials, so with hardened criminals, there is a chance of first time and circumstantial offenders to turn into criminals. • Prisons are often a dangerous place for the first-time offenders who are subjected to group violence and mishandling by the police. • Due to overcrowding in the prison and shortage of adequate space to lodge prisoners, most of the prisons face problems to keep them in safe and healthy conditions. • Undertrial prisoners also face homosexual abuse as prisons are places where same-sex people are lodged. • Due to long absence of the main bread winner, family of the under-trial prisoner many a time is forced into destitution and also faces social stigmatization.
  • 6. RIGHTS OF UNDERTRIAL PRISONERS • Judiciary in every country has an obligation to protect Human Rights of citizens. As per the Constitution of India, this function is assigned to the superior judiciary namely the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts. • The undertrial prisoners also have their rights. The Supreme Court of India, by interpreting Article 21 of the Constitution, has developed human rights jurisprudence for the preservation and protection of undertrial prisoners’ rights to maintain human dignity. • In addition to this, the question of cruelty to prisoners is also dealt with specifically by The Prisons Act, 1894 and The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).
  • 7. RIGHT TO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS Fundamental rights which are provided by Part - III of the Indian Constitution are the first and the foremost rights which are enjoyed by the Undertrials prisoners during the trials. The most important among which is Article 14 i.e. Right to Equality, which reads as “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws within the territory of India.”
  • 8. RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides that “No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”. The right to life and personal liberty is the back bone of the Human Rights in India. By giving a liberal and comprehensive meaning to “life and personal liberty,” the Indian Judiciary has formulated and has established plethora of rights.
  • 9. RIGHT TO BAIL • Section 436A of the CrPC provides for the release of the accused on bail on his own surety if he has served half of the maximum term prescribed for that offence for which death is not one of the prescribed punishments. In such cases also the prosecution should be heard and on recording the reasons, the court may order continued detention beyond one half of the said maximum punishment. • Also, such person shall not be detained during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial for more than the maximum period of imprisonment as given for the said offence under the law.
  • 10. RIGHT TO DEFAULT BAIL It is a release on bail on the default of the prosecution in filing charge-sheet within the prescribed period. The right to bail under Section 167(2) proviso (a) of the CrPC is absolute. If the investigating agency fails to file charge- sheet before the expiry of 90 days (where offence is punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for 10 years or more) or 60 days (where offence is punishable with imprisonment for less than 10 years or fine) as the case may be, the accused in custody shall be released on bail.
  • 11. RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL • It is absolutely necessary that the persons accused of offences should be speedily tried so that in cases where the bail is refused, the accused persons do not have to remain in jail longer than is absolutely necessary. The right to speedy trial has become a universally recognized human right • Section 437(6) of the CrPC provides that if the accused is in detention and the trial is not completed within 60 days from the first date fixed for taking evidence, then he shall be released on bail. But this rule is applicable only in case of trial by a Magistrate. • The Supreme Court in A.R. Antulay vs. R.S. Nayak held that the right to speedy trial flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution is available to the accused at all stages like investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal, revision and retrial.
  • 12. RIGHT TO FAIR TRIAL The fair trial is the foremost requirement of criminal proceedings and it is utmost right of an undertrial prisoner. Fair Trial is the main object of criminal procedure and such fairness should not be hampered in any manner. Fair Trial entails the interests of the accused, the victim and of the society. Thus, fair trial must be accorded to every accused in the spirit of right to life and personal liberty and the accused must get a free and fair, just and reasonable trial on the charge framed in a criminal case.
  • 13. RIGHT TO CONSULT A LEGAL PRACTITIONER Article 22 (1) of the Constitution provides that no person who is arrested shall be denied the right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. This right of the accused is fundamental and essential to fair trial. The right is recognized because ordinarily an accused person does not have the knowledge of law and the professional skill to defend himself before a court of law. Section 303 of the CrPC also confers this right on an accused person.
  • 14. RIGHT TO FREE LEGALAID • Article 39A of the Constitution provides for the free legal aid. This article ensures that access to justice is not denied to anyone because of economic or other disabilities. • The Parliament enacted Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 under which legal aid is guaranteed and governments have established Legal Services Authorities to give effect to Article 39A. • Section 304 of the CrPC also provides that where the accused is not represented by a pleader, the Court of Session shall assign a pleader for his defence at the expense of the State.
  • 15. RIGHT AGAINST INHUMAN TREATMENT • Undertrial prisoners have the right to be treated with dignity, and not be tortured or subjected to any form of inhuman treatment. To this end, they are not allowed to be handcuffed while being transferred from prison to court unless valid reasons can be provided for the same. • Human Rights are part and parcel of human dignity. The Supreme Court of India in various cases has taken a serious note of the inhuman treatment on prisoners and has issued appropriate directions to prison authorities for safeguarding the rights of the prisoners.
  • 16. RIGHT TO SECURITY OF LIFE • It is the duty of the State to provide security to the undertrial prisoners. If it fails to do so and any incident takes place inside the jail, then the State has to pay compensation to the dependents of the deceased person. • The decision of the Supreme Court in the case of D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal is noteworthy. The court concentrated on the problem of custodial torture and issued a number of directions to eradicate this evil, for better protection and promotion of Human Rights.
  • 17. CONCLUSION • Undertrial prisoners are those who have been accused of some crime and waiting for their trial to be concluded in the court. They cannot be called convicts because their guilt has not been proved. • A huge majority of undertrial prisoners are poor who are unable to furnish bail for their release. They are not made aware about their legal rights i.e. the right to free legal aid, the right to get the legal practitioner of their choice, the right to bail etc.
  • 18. • They live in a disturbing conditions in jail, don’t have access to adequate medical care and are tortured and exploited. Detention of the undertrials not only violates their right to liberty but also amounts to denial of human rights to these people who need protection, care and consideration of law and criminal justice system. • The number of undertrials in prison can be reduced only by speeding up the trial, simplifying of the bail procedure and by periodic review of the cases of undertrials. Moreover, there should a separate prison for undertrial prisoners. CONCLUSION