Prisons across the country are bursting at the seams having to lodge about 1.10 lakh convicts and undertrials more than their capacity, with the national capital recording the highest percentage of overcrowding of jail inmates with 214.4 per cent.
According to the latest government data, the total capacity of 1,336 jails in the country is 2,63,911 but they lodge 3,73,271 inmates, including over 3.58 lakh men which is 96.1 per cent of the total prison population.
"A major problem that is being faced in most of the jails is overcrowding resulting in inadequate infrastructure facilities and lack of essential services for the inmates," the National Crime Records Bureau report on jails for 2006 said.
However, the NCRB said, the all-India occupancy rate showed a declining trend in 2006 compared to 2005. In 2005, the rate was 145.4 per cent while it dipped to 141.1 per cent the next year.
Delhi reported the highest percentage of overcrowding in its prisons, which lodges 13,400 inmates as against a capacity of 6,250 followed by Gujarat (206.9 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (195.5). Gujarat lodges a total of 11,793 prisoners (capacity 5,700) and Chhattisgarh 10,359 (5,299).
Interestingly, the jails in Lakshadweep which can lodge 56 prisoners had no inmates in the year 2006.
The occupancy rate in six states and four union territories remained less than 100 per cent. The states where the jails were not full were West Bengal (92.2 per cent occupancy), Rajasthan (79.7), Jammu and Kashmir (73.2), Mizoram (68.9) and Nagaland (55.2).
The highest number of inmates were lodged in Uttar Pradesh, which accounted for 66,669 followed by Bihar with 44,281 at the end of 2006.