New Delhi: The number of deaths in police custody witnessed a nearly 60% increase over the last three years and 75% over the last two years across the country, data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Rajya Sabha has revealed. The data also revealed that the number of such cases rose by a whopping 10 times in Maharashtra, three times in Kerala and Bihar, and two times in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka
In response to a question from Congress MP Phulo Devi Netam, who asked about the number of deaths in police custody over the five years and the status of investigation and payment of compensation in relation to them, the minister of state in the MHA Nityanand Rai submitted the state-wise details of such cases.
He also submitted that as per information provided by the National Human Rights Commission, monetary relief amounting to Rs 5,80,74,998 was recommended in 201 cases and disciplinary action was initiated in one case during the last five financial years.
On the question from the MP on “whether the government has taken any steps to eliminate custodial torture and death”, the minister said, “it is primarily the responsibility of the state government concerned to ensure protection of human rights. However, the Central Government issues advisories from time to time and also has enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHR), 1993, which stipulates establishment of the NHRC and State Human Rights Commissions to look into the alleged human rights violations by public servants.”
He added that “when complaints of alleged human rights violations are received by the NHRC, action is taken by the Commission as per the provisions laid down under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.”
The data provided with the reply revealed that overall across India while the number of such custodial deaths had declined over three successive years from 146 in 2017-18 to 136 in 2018-19, then to 112 in 2019-20 and further to 100 in 2020-21, they had recorded a sharp rise to 175 in 2021-22.
And over the last three full financial years, there was a nearly 60% jump in such cases. Among the states, over the last three years, the highest number of cases were reported from Gujarat (53), Maharashtra (46), Madhya Pradesh (30), Bihar (26), Rajasthan (21), West Bengal (20) and Uttar Pradesh (19).
As for the rise in custodial death cases over the last three years, the number of such cases rose from 3 in 2019-20 to 30 in 2021-22 in Maharashtra; they increased from 12 to 24 during the same period in Gujarat; from 5 to 13 in Rajasthan; from 4 to 8 in Karnataka, from 3 to 8 in UP and from 2 to 6 in Kerala.