‘77 Out of Every 100 Prisoners’: The Big Picture of Undertrials in India

Out of every 100 prisoners in India, 77 are undertrial prisoners.

2 min read

Video Producer: Akanksha Pandey

Video Editor: Mohd. Irshad Alam

Out of every 100 prisoners in India, 77 are undertrials – prisoners who are detained in jail without being tried or convicted. The concerning state of affairs in Indian prisons points to a misuse of power by the police, delay in the judicial process, and injustice.

How many prisoners have not been released from jail even after completing their sentences?

Indian National Congress leader Imran Pratapgarhi recently asked in the Parliament.

To answer his question, as of 2019, 1,031 prisoners are in jail, despite completing their sentence, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.


Contrary to the saying, 'Bail is a rule, jail is an exception,' why is it so difficult to get bail in India and why are so many people imprisoned without being proven guilty?

Lets Look at the Numbers

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total number of prisoners in the country stands at approximately 5.5 lakh. Out of this number, only 1.2 lakh prisoners are actually proven guilty. The remaining 4.3 lakh are undertrial prisoners.

In 1,319 prisons in the country, if for example, the capacity for prisoners is 100, the actual number of prisoners stands at 130.

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra have the highest number of undertrial prisoners in the country.

The prisons are severely overpopulated.

Another interesting thing to note is the composition of these undertrial prisoners. Out of all undertrial prisoners, 21% are Dalits, 10% are Adivasis and 17% are Muslims.


There are approximately 4.30 crore cases pending in different courts in the country, according to National Judicial Data Grid.

The high number of undertrial prisoners is a result of cases being pending for years, shortage of judges, the police misusing their powers, people being framed in fabricated cases, and a lack of financial resources, among other things.

India is in a dire need of judicial reforms.

Dr Kafeel Khan who protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA-NRC) was implicated under the National Security Act (NSA) and kept in jail for months without being proven guilty.

Similarly, student activists such as Natasha Narwal, Asif Tanha and Devangana Kalita, among others, were imprisoned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for months.

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Topics:  judiciary   Undertrials   Pending cases 

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