Not able to pay fine, 1000 kept in jail in 2016

49 people have been in prison for more than 5 years

Latest figures show that a little over 1,000 prisoners were languishing in jail even after completion of their sentence due to their inability to pay fines imposed on them, with 49 of them being imprisoned for more than five years at the end of 2016.

Detaining convicts in jails for failing to pay their fines has come up for criticism by Madras High Court earlier but Indian prisons continue to keep prisoners in jail even after their sentences expire.

Latest figures show that a little over 1,000 prisoners were languishing in jail even after completion of their sentence due to their inability to pay fines imposed on them, with 49 of them being imprisoned for more than five years at the end of 2016.

The statistics for 2017 and 2018 have not been released yet and the Prison Statistics 2016, which was put in public domain recently, shows that the largest chunk came from Chhattisgarh where 202 people were in jail after completion of their sentence as they failed to pay the fine.

Poverty appears to be the reason for many to remain in jail for their inability to pay the penalty. Some of them have spent more than double the time of the sentence just for not paying the fine.

According to the latest report, 1,037 prisoners were in jail at the end of 2016 for non-payment of fines as against 993 in 2015, 1,326 in 2014 and 3,044 in 2013.

Among those 49, including two women, who are in jail for more than five years, 16 were from Mizoram while eight were from Chhattisgarh. In 2015, there were 60 such prisoners while in 2014, it was 76 and in 2013, 240.

The highest number of 549 were in jail for less than six months while another 182 spent six months to one year in jail for non-payment. Between one and two years, there were 168 while 46 were in prisons for a period between two and three years.

After Chhattisgarh, the states with higher number of such prisoners in 2016 were Uttar Pradesh (156), Punjab (131) and Mizoram (110). Karnataka, which had four such prisoners in 2015, did not have a single one in 2016.

 While dealing with a case detention of a convict for more than six years for not paying a fine of Rs 2.1 lakh, the Madras High Court had in 2012 said 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”.

 To cast a person in prison because of his poverty and consequent inability to pay fine is "appalling", it had said.

 Convicts in Jail Due to Non-Payment of Fine after Completion of Sentence 2016

 









State

 

Below 6 months

6months – Below 1 year

1-2 year

2-3 years

3-5 years

Above 5 years

Total

Chhattisgarh

 

80

 

 

51

 

43

 

12

 

8

 

8

 

202

Uttar Pradesh

 

104

 

18

 

27

 

4

 

1

 

2

 

156

 

Punjab

 

107

 

11

 

12

 

0

 

0

 

1

 

131

 

Mizoram

 

37

 

15

 

25

 

12

 

5

 

16

 

110

 

Maharashtra

 

 

53

 

 

17

 

 

13

 

 

0

 

 

4

 

 

4

 

 

91

 

Karnataka

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

All India

 

549

 

182

 

168

 

46

 

43

 

49

 

1037

Source: Prison Statistics 2016/NCRB

 
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