Trial 'bias'

Former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren has raised with the President the increase in the number of Dalits, tribals and minorities who have been languishing in jail without trial.

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 7.04.18
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New Delhi: Former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren has raised with the President the increase in the number of Dalits, tribals and minorities who have been languishing in jail without trial.

Soren, along with JMM legislators, met President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday and sought his intervention on the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which has allegedly been diluted through a Supreme Court order, and Jharkhand's land amendments.

"In Chaibasa prison, we have come to know of two girls and a man held there as undertrials since 2006. They have never had a hearing in court for 12 years. All three are tribals. Chaibasa prison and other prisons are full of adivasis, Dalits and minorities. Hundreds of them in Jharkhand have never faced trial for a decade," Soren told The Telegraph.

The National Crime Records Bureau's Prison Statistics India-2015 show that 67.2 per cent of Indian prisoners are undertrials and 1.3 per cent of them are in jail for more than five years. In Jharkhand alone, 196 undertrials have spent more than five years in jail.

Of the undertrials, minorities are 30.2 per cent, SCs 21.6 and STs 12.4 per cent - cumulatively 64.2 per cent of all undertrials.

Of India's population, the minorities are 20.2 per cent, SCs 16.6 per cent and STs 8.6 per cent.

"When we got independence, about 25 per cent of prisoners were undertrials. The tables have now turned. The reason there are so many SCs, STs and minorities in prison is that they can't afford lawyers. The President asked us for state-wide details, which we will submit when he visits Jharkhand next month," Soren said.