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Prison Reforms

  Jun 25, 2020

Prison Reforms

(Justice Amitava Roy Report)

Who appointed the Committee?

It was Supreme Court appointed committee entrusted with the task of examining various issues concerning prisons in the country and was directed to submit a report to the court.

Facts and statistics:

As per NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau ) data:

  1. The majority of prisoners in India are people who have not yet been pronounced guilty by a court of law, according to the 2017 report on prison statistics.
  2. According to the report, at the end of 2017, 68.5 percent of the total prisoners in India were undertrials.
  3. The data also suggests that the criminal justice system is more likely to incarcerate people from the marginalised sections of society.
  4. In Jammu and Kashmir, 8 percent of all incarcerated people were in jail under preventive detention, the highest among all states of India.

What does Justice Amitava Roy Report say?

  1. Most prisons in the country are filled with under trial prisoners and their numbers are highly disproportionate to the actual number of persons who end up getting convicted.
  2. There is shortage of staff in prison departments, to the extent of 30-40% has lingered for years for want of timely recruitment, the committee noted. This, it said, is a major hindrance for implementation of several mandatory measures prescribed by the law on prison reforms.
  3. Many prisons are Still continuing with primitive methods for food preparation with congested and unhygienic kitchens.

Suggestions:

  1. It recommended that special fast-track courts be set up to deal exclusively with petty offences which have been pending for more than five years. Further, it said that accused persons who are charged with petty offences and those granted bail, but who are unable to arrange surety should be released on a Personal Recognizance Bond.
  2. It also suggested that an adjournment should not be granted in cases where witnesses are present and the concept of plea bargaining, in which accused admits guilt for a lesser sentence, should be promoted.
  3. The committee also recommended that courts should exercise discretion to award alternative sentences to imprisonment , such as fines, admonitions, and community service. It also batted for the release of offenders/ prisoners on probation at pre-trial stage and after trial in deserving cases.
  4. The committee asked the Supreme Court to direct states to hold special recruitment drives to fill up existing vacancies within the timeline prescribed by it.
  5. It recommended for providing effective legal aid to prisoners, ensuring video conferencing facilities between courts and prisons and taking steps to provide vocational skills and education to prisoners.
  6. It recommended steps to upgrade kitchens and to revise the diet of the inmates.