Over 21 per cent of undertrials in the country in 2012 were Muslims. However,members of the community comprised only 17.75 per cent of the convicts,reveals analysis of prison data released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
This suggests a large number of arrested Muslims are released by the courts.
The inverse is true of all other communities.
Hindus comprised 69.92 per cent of undertrials and 71.35 per cent of convicts. Sikhs constituted 3.97 per cent of undertrials and 4.94 per cent of convicts. The figures were 3.5 per cent and 3.99 per cent for Christians.
Sociologists said the numbers suggested bias in the police machinery against Muslims.
In 23 states,there were more Muslim undertrials than convicts. Only in Karnataka,Manipur,Nagaland,Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand,the percentage of Muslim convicts was higher than the percentage of undertrials from the community.
There can be only two reasons for this. Either Muslims hire better lawyers who secure their release or the cases against them are weak and do not stand court scrutiny, said Vijay Raghavan,associate professor and chairperson of Centre for Criminology and Justice,Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
The disparity,however,is not a recent phenomenon. In 2002,Muslims made up 24.72 per cent of undertrials and only 16.65 per cent of convicts. The pattern remained the same in the past decade.
The revelation that the number of Muslim undertrials is higher than the number of Muslim convicts shows members of the community are more vulnerable to false arrest. This strengthens the belief that communal prejudices,to some extent,exist in the police force. This needs to be carefully examined and effectively remedied, said criminal lawyer Majeed Memon.
The percentage of Muslim prisoners in the country,however,is gradually coming down. sIn 2002,Muslims made up 22.69 per cent of prisoners.
This number has now dipped to 19.94 per cent but is still high considering that Muslims make up only 13.43 per cent of the Indian population.
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