1,658 in jail despite completing sentence due to fine

Last Updated 23 October 2019, 17:39 IST

Over 1,650 prisoners are languishing in jail even after completion of sentence due to their inability to pay fine imposed on them, with 42 of them being imprisoned for more than five years.

Compared to 2015, this is an increase of 67% in an indication that more prisoners are not being able to pay their fine. Poverty seem to be the reason for many to remain in jail with some of them spending more than double the time of the sentence just for not paying the fine.

Uttar Pradesh account for 61.39% (1,018) of these prisoners while Punjab comes a distant second with 141 such prisoners followed by Kerala (123). Seventy of these prisoners are women.

Karnataka has just six such prisoners— four continued to be in jail for 1-2 years and one each 2-3 years and 3-5 years respectively.

Fourty-two of them, including two women, are in jail for more than five years while 54 are languishing in jail for three to five years, the Prison Statistics India 2017 said.

The highest number of 807 was in the jail for less than six months while another 304 spent six months to one year in jail for non-payment.

Between one and two years, there were 343 while 108 were in prisons for a period between two and three years.

The Madras High Court had in 2012 said that to cast a person in prison because of his poverty and consequent inability to pay fine is "appalling" while dealing with a case of detention of a convict for more than six years for not paying a fine of Rs 2.1 lakh.

Putting one in prison to recover debts is “too flagrantly violative” of Article 21 unless there is proof of “wilful failure to pay in spite of sufficient means” and absence of more “terribly pressing claims on his means such as medical bills to treat cancer or other grave illness”, it had then said.

(Published 23 October 2019, 14:55 IST)

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