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At 80, the highest no. of custodial deaths reported in Gujarat in the last 5 years, Rajya Sabha told

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

 

Source: IE

 

Context: According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the highest number of custodial deaths has been reported in Gujarat (80) In the last five years.

 

Custodial deaths/extrajudicial killings in India:

  

Meaning:

 

Reasons for the custodial deaths:

  • Police under work pressure: To improve their performance and conduct an investigation as soon as possible.
  • Punitive violence (torture to deter those who are about to commit a crime).
  • Positive reinforcement: Using shortcuts to get quick results.
  • Lack of proper training for policemen.

  

Laws regulating/prohibiting custodial deaths:

  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC Section-96): Every human being has the right to private defence.
  • The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC Section 46): Allows police to use all means necessary to arrest a detainee.
  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act: It gives the Indian Defense Forces broad powers to use lethal force in a variety of situations.

 

Guidelines to prevent custodial deaths: 

The Central Government: Issues advisories from time to time and has enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHR), 1993, which stipulates the establishment of the NHRC and SHRCs to look into alleged human rights violations by public servants.

  

NHRC: 

  • A magisterial inquiry (within 3 months) in all cases of deaths in the course of police action.
  • Prompt prosecution and disciplinary action against delinquent officers.
  • Denial of out-of-turn promotion, etc.

 

SC (in the PUCL vs State of Maharashtra case 2014): Laid down 16-point guidelines for a thorough, effective and independent investigation in the cases of death during police encounters.

  • Some of these are – An independent investigation > disciplinary action > compensation to be granted to the dependents of the victim.

 

Way ahead:

  • Amend the Evidence Act to place the onus of proof on the police (Law Commission).
  • To sensitize public servants (through NHRC’s workshops, and seminars) for a better understanding of the human rights of persons in custody.

 

Conclusion: Police and public order are State subjects as per the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Hence, it is primarily the responsibility of the state government concerned to ensure the protection of persons in custody.

 

Insta Links:

Use of Technology to Prevent Custodial Deaths