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INDIAN CRIMINAL DEFENSE MANUAL
LEGAL TRAINING RESOURCE CENTER
India has one of the world's largest populations of pre-trial detainees with 249,796 people in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons. While in police custody, these Indian citizens are often subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, and shock treatments - all in violation of their fundamental constitutional rights. Subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, they are an example of human rights abuses on a colossal scale. Four people die in police or judicial custody every day from these abuses.
Many of these deaths could be avoided if cases were swiftly resolved. Unfortunately, more cases are filed than disposed of in Indian courts each year, creating a bottleneck in the criminal justice system. There are currently 26,752,193 pending cases in Indian courts. In some jurisdictions, case loads are so high that it would take years to clear court dockets.As a result of this backlog, detainees who cannot make bail are sometimes held in pretrial detention longer than the maximum sentence they would have received even if convicted. During periods of pre-trial detention, arrestees are at the greatest risk of torture. Victims have reported that the longer they are held in detention, the more intense the violence against them becomes. These abuses are exacerbated by the continuing deterioration of the Indian Police, one of the most ill-equipped police departments in the world.
Despite the fact that India has a limited legal aid system, the vast majority of pre-trial detainees never receive any legal representation. India's current legal aid system operates primarily in urban areas, and due to caste segregation many Indians do not receive access to legal aid at all. Each of India's 28 states operates its own Legal Services Authority, resulting in an uncoordinated approach to India's legal aid problems.
- There are 26,752,193 pending cases in Indian courts. In some jurisdictions case loads are so high that it would take a thousand years to clear court dockets.