11,820 Custodial Deaths in Five Years



NEW DELHI, Nov 25 — The Supreme Court has viewed seriously ineffective implementation of series of directions to curb custodial deaths and sought explanation from the Centre and states after being informed that nearly 12,000 persons died — either in jail or in police stations — in last five years, Times of India reported.

A bench of Justices S S Nijjar and F M I Kalifulla was pained when amicus curiae A M Singhvi moved an application seeking implementation of 15 more guidelines to clamp down on custodial excesses, which has resulted in the death of 11,820 and 3,532 reported cases of custodial torture between 2007 and 2012.

Singhvi said, “Despite repeated judgments and directions passed by the Supreme Court in the writ petition D K Basu, which has been pending for last 27 years, laying down guidelines for prevention of custodial violence and deaths, implementation by various states appears to be extremely lax.”

He listed eight judgments and orders of the apex court and said another gory dimension to “the senseless exhibition of superiority and physical power over the one who is already overpowered” had been added by the spurt in custodial rape cases.

Singhvi stated that “the National Human Rights Commission registered 39 cases of rape in judicial and police custody from 2006 to 2010”. The low figure of custodial torture was explained by Singhvi. He said, “Unlike custodial deaths, the police are not mandatorily required to report cases of torture which do not result in deaths to NHRC. Hence number of reported cases of police torture is a fraction of the actual incidents.”

He said Maharashtra reported maximum number of custodial deaths in the country. “Number of custodial deaths in Maharashtra in 2007, 2008 and 2009 are 21, 25 and 23, respectively. The state government in its reply has put the figures for the three years at 20, 29 and 23 (a total of 72). It is noteworthy that many of the custodial deaths admitted to by Maharashtra are women.”

He said though the total number of cases admitted by the state was 72, criminal action against perpetrators of custodial death had been initiated only in four cases and the state did not inform about the outcome of such criminal action initiated against the accused policemen.

He said the NHRC in 2011-12 registered 94,985 cases of human rights violations across the country. “Nearly a half, 46,187, were registered from Uttar Pradesh followed by Delhi (7,988) and Haryana 6,921). Even though NHRC is located in Delhi, it is necessary that Delhi should have its own state human rights commission (SHRC),” Singhvi said.


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