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Delhi prisons most packed in country, shows data

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAnvit Srivastava
Aug 31, 2020 06:57 AM IST

According to the NCRB data, Delhi was on top of the chart with the highest prisoner occupancy in the country at 174.9% -- housing 7,508 more prisoners than its given capacity of 10,026. The total number of prisoners in Delhi’s jails on December 31, 2019 was 17,534.

Delhi’s prisons are the most crowded and violent in the country, according to data for the financial year 2019-20 released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which also shows the authorities here spent more on food, clothing and medical care of inmates than any other jail in India.

Security personnel guard gate No. 3 of Tihar Jail.(Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Security personnel guard gate No. 3 of Tihar Jail.(Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times)

According to the NCRB data, Delhi was on top of the chart with the highest prisoner occupancy in the country at 174.9% -- housing 7,508 more prisoners than its given capacity of 10,026. The total number of prisoners in Delhi’s jails on December 31, 2019 was 17,534.

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The data shows while Rajasthan has seven prisons for women, highest in the country, Delhi, with just two, has the highest number of women inmates at 629. The occupancy rate of Delhi’s women prisons was 97.07% as on December 31, 2019, the report says.

Fifty-seven clashes between inmates were reported in Delhi jails last year in 2019, making it the country’s most violent prison. 92 prisoners were injured in these incidents, the highest in the country, the NCRB data shows.

Sandeep Goel, director-general, Delhi prisons, said the number of clashes was high because each and every incident is reported. “One reason is also that the jails are overcrowded. Recently, we had taken measures to decongest our jails. While 1,150 convicts were released temporarily to decongest jails in the wake of the pandemic, 2,900 undertrials were released on interim bail. A police housing complex with a capacity of 2,000 inmates was also converted into a temporary jail near Mandoli,” he said.

Sunil Gupta, who was the prison’s only law officer for 35 years until his retirement in 2016, said the reason behind fights among the prisoners is that criminals in Delhi are divided into separate gangs and groups. “At the time of their admission and jail allotment, it should be seen that an inmate is not put in the same jail where the members of his rival gangs are housed,” he said.

There are 14 central jails in Delhi and two for women.

Expenses on food, medical care:

According to the data, of the total expenditure incurred on inmates, Delhi prisons spent the highest on food and medical care -- Rs 18,620 was spent per prisoner on food and Rs 9,684 on medical care of each prisoner in the financial year 2019-20, the data shows.

It shows Delhi prisons spent an average of Rs 5.70 on education and vocational training of each of its prisoners in the financial year 2019-2020 and Rs 62.73 on their clothing the whole year.

Delhi prisons stood second when it came to the total expenditure of Rs 310.02 crore incurred on its inmates in the financial year 2019-2020. Uttar Pradesh was on top with a total expenditure of Rs 349.55 crore and Haryana was in third place with Rs 272.62 crore.

The data shows Delhi prison’s expenditure break-up was Rs 32.65 crore spent on food, Rs 11 lakh spent on prisoner’s clothing, 1 lakh on their education and Rs 16.98 crore on their health care.

Director general Goel said the expenses on education was low because the expenses of those inmates who express interest in studying further are taken care of by the National Institute of Open Schooling and Indira Gandhi National Open University. “They bear all the expenses related to education,” he said.

Goel said they have computers in every jail. “NGOs visit our jails and help inmates learn. In Jail number 5, for inmates in the age group of 18-21 years, we have a school to engage them in activities that focus in transforming them,” Goel said.

Goel said medical expenses are high as they have an advanced medical facility available in jail for every prisoner. “We have in every jail a dispensary with doctors round the clock. We have two hospitals in the Tihar complex and one in Mandoli. Apart from this, we have a pathology lab for basic diagnosis. If required, patients are referred to other hospitals,” Goel said.

Gupta said more than 80% of jails’ population comes from the lower economic strata, whose monthly income is less than Rs 8,000. “About 40% of them are illiterate. Because IGNOU and NIOS take care of major expenses, the jail administration only teaches the illiterate prisoners who express interest in learning. Therefore the expenses incurred are minimal like those on basic stationery,” he said.

Another reason why the medical expenses are high was that most of the inmates from the lower economic backgrounds suffer from ailments such as tuberculosis, cancer and even AIDS, Gupta said .

“Delhi prisons has more than 100 doctors and para-medical staff. Their salaries and allowances form a major part of expenditure,” Gupta said.

Apart from these expenses, a sum of Rs 17 lakh was spent on welfare activities and Rs 260.12 crore on other services. These other expenses may include money spent on sanitation, hygiene, on transport facilities for the movement of prisoners during remand, trials, transfers and to hospital etc., the data says.

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