Undertrial Prisoners in India: Detention of the Presumed “Innocent”

  • Neya A.S.
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  • Neya A.S.

    LL.M. student at School of Excellence in Law, Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, India

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2/3rds of the prison population in India are undertrials. Despite any amount of action against crowding, undertrial prisoners continue to fill Indian prisons when actually they are to be presumed innocent in the eyes of law. The presumption of innocence is a cardinal principle in Indian Criminal Justice system that requires a person charged of an offence to be proved guilty until he is proven guilty without any reasonable doubt through a fair trial. But in case of undertrial prisoners, the Criminal Justice system detains them despite the fact that they may be innocent and that their guilt is not proved. Undertrial prisoners languish in prisons for a long time that even surpasses the probable imprisonment that they might get. The undertrial prisoners suffer from further difficulties that violate their basic human and fundamental rights such as overcrowding of prisons, lack of access to legal representation, prison violence, social stigmatization, unequal access to get bail, etc. India took a very long way to realize the right of undertrial prisoners and to work for guaranteeing their protection that took a significant step in the year 2005 that inserts Section 436A stipulating the maximum period for which an undertrial prisoner can be detained. The Indian Judiciary has also pronounced sufficient guidelines on various public interest litigations filed for the cause of undertrial prisoners however the lack of proper implementation and effective usage of existing provisions is evident with the current state of affairs. Hence there exists a need to critically analyze the ways of reforms in law by striking a balance between Public order and safety as well as the rights of undertrial prisoners. Reformations such as bringing alternatives to punishments, bail reforms, compensatory mechanism, procedural safeguards on unwarranted arrest or detention and public awareness against stigmatization are ways to go.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 1217 - 1233

DOI: https://doij.org/10.10000/IJLMH.117181

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