Police torture kills 1,184 persons in custody
in India in the last eight years
- Maharashtra records the highest deaths in police custody -
South Asia, New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its
report “Torture in India 2009” released to the media today stated that in the
last eight years (from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2009), an estimated 1,184
persons were killed in police custody in India. Most of the victims were killed
as a result of torture within the first 48 hours after being taken into
The highest number of custodial deaths was reported in Maharashtra (192 cases) followed by Uttar Pradesh (128), Gujarat (113), Andhra Pradesh (85), West Bengal (83), Tamil Nadu (76), Assam (74), Karnataka (55), Punjab (41), Madhya Pradesh (38), Bihar and Rajasthan (32 each), Haryana (31), Kerala (30), Jharkhand (29), Delhi (25), Orissa (24), Chhattisgarh (23), Uttarakhand and Meghalaya (16 each), Arunachal Pradesh (11), Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura (9 each), Puducherry and Chandigarh (3 each), Himachal Pradesh (2) while Manipur, Goa, Sikkim, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli recorded one case each.
“These deaths in custody do not however represent the actual number of deaths in police custody in India. A number of cases of custodial death taken up by ACHR with the NHRC show that the NHRC was not informed by the police about these custodial deaths. While the NHRC has expressed its anguish against the failure to report these cases of custodial deaths but the NHRC's guidelines on reporting custodial deaths within 24 hours continue to be flouted.” - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR.
“Further, deaths in the custody of the armed forces and the Indian Army under the control of the Central government are not reported to the NHRC as it does not have jurisdiction to investigate violations committed by the armed forces under Section 19 of the Human Rights Protection Act, 1993. ACHR itself has filed 50 complaints of extrajudicial killings from 2003 to 2009 from Manipur alone. Many of these alleged extrajudicial killings were indeed deaths in the custody of the Manipur Police Commandos but since the Manipur Police Commandos claim to be conducting operations jointly with the central armed forces, the deaths in the custody of the Manipur Police Commandos are not reported to the NHRC” further stated Mr Chakma.
The report stated that high number of deaths in custody exposes the abject failure of the 1996 DK Basu Judgment that provides the procedures to be followed while making arrests.
“Further, one of the key failures of the DK Basu guidelines is that its compliance is confined only to cases of arrests made under Sections 41 (when police may arrest without warrant) and 74 (Warrant directed to police officer) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (as amended up to date). It does not apply to those who are summoned but not formally arrested.” – further stated Mr Chakma.
Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008 is a sham:
The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008 being brought by the government of India is a sham. The Bill contains only three operative paragraphs relating to definition of torture, punishment for torture and limitations for cognizance of offences falls.
The Prevention of Torture Bill 2008 falls far short of obligations that the States ratifying the CAT must undertake. It provides “narrow and restrictive definition of torture” with no reference to death as a result of torture. It provides for lenient punishment for torture contrary to the punishments provided under the Indian Penal Code for similar offences. Further, the six months bar for taking cognizance of offences under the proposed Bill is contrary to the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
Asian Centre for Human Rights
recommended that the Supreme Court should amend the Guidelines issued in the D
K Basu judgement to apply
from the moment of summons issued by the police or detention with the police
when acting in an official capacity; the NHRC should distinguish in its
statistics between custodial deaths through natural causes and custodial deaths
resulting from abuses of human rights; the government of India should send the
Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008 to Parliamentary Standing Committee for
organizing public hearing to ensure its conformity with the UN Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the government of India should ratify the UN
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment and its Optional Protocol; and the government of India should extend
an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.