In terms of deaths in police custody, Gujarat reported the highest number of cases at 15 between the year 2020 up to February 28, 2021. Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, reported 395 cases of death in judicial custody.
Across all States and Union Territories, a total of 86 deaths in police custody was reported by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), where Gujarat accounts for 6% of deaths in police lockups.
The year from 2020 to 2021, also reported a whopping 1,645 cases of judicial custodial deaths. Following Gujarat, Maharashtra recorded 11 deaths in police custody and West Bengal reported 158 deaths in judicial custody.
Looking at the statistics of previous years, Uttar Pradesh paints a very grim picture with leading cases of deaths in judicial custody (400) and 14 death cases in police custody in Madhya Pradesh between the year 2019 to 2020.
The Minister of State (Home Affairs) G. Kishan Reddy was also asked in the Lok Sabha about the total number of cases of custodial deaths (Police and Judicial) and the NHRC recommended monetary relief, disciplinary action, prosecution during the last three years up to February 28, 2021.
The annexure attached to the Minister’s written response listed that disciplinary action has been taken only in 12 cases from April 1, 2017 to February 28, 2021. The most unfortunate record is that of prosecution, which stands at zero over the last three years.
In terms of monetary relief, NHRC has released a total of Rs. 4,77,74,998 crores for deaths caused in police cells and Rs. 14,03,49,997 crores for deaths in judicial custody between 2017 and 2021.
Lok Sabha MP Pinaki Misra also asked whether the Government is considering to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and reasons for not having ratified it yet. To this, the Minister vaguely answered that, “Ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture would require an enabling legislation framing of which is a dynamic process and is undertaken, taking into account the views of the various stakeholders.”
Despite the parliamentary response stating that “The Ministry of Home Affairs and NHRC also issues advisories from time to time to ensure protection of human rights”, custodial deaths continue to plague the justice system, compelling even the top court to pass a detailed and specific order directing states and the centre to install CCTV cameras in police stations and investigative agencies to end abuse.
On March 5 this year, the apex court expressed its dissatisfaction with the Centre, States and UTs for failing to follow its order in “letter and spirit”, refusing to entertain the Union’s excuses on the matter.
The answer may be read here:
CCTV cameras in Police stations: SC discontent with Centre, States and UTs
End Custodial Torture: SC’s new comprehensive directions on CCTVs in police stations
Disarray in Odisha over custodial violence cases
1700 custodial deaths in a year, yet no anti-torture law!