Custodial death worst human rights abuse, says High Court

'A person in custody is helpless, should not be tortured'

Custodial death is the worst form of human rights abuse which should be averted at any cost. A person in custody is in a helpless situation and should not be tortured for purpose of interrogation. In its place, more scientific methods must be adopted, the High Court said on Monday.

Chief Justice D H Waghela observed thus while hearing a batch of petitions for police reforms.

He was heading a Division Bench which also comprised Justice B V Nagarathna. The court later disposed of the petitions, directing the State government to take steps to prevent crimes aside from addressing the complaints. It also observed that the police force should always protect the people and it was the symbol of a civilised society.

The petitions were for formation of Police Establishment Board (PEB) and setting up of separate units for crime investigation and law and order in police stations across the State.

Representing the government, Advocate General, Ravivarma Kumar, submitted that the above demands had been fulfilled.

In one of the petitions pertaining to investigation of rapes and gang-rapes and transfer of police officers, the petitioners had demanded that the directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of India case be followed. The advocate general replied that the directions had been submitted to the government and its response on implementation was awaited.

During the hearing, G R Mohan, counsel for one of the petitioners, sought details about government schemes, the rehabilitation centre and counselling for victims. He said that during investigation, the rape victim should not be called to the police station and her statement should be recorded by a policewoman only.

On rehabilitation of rape victims, the advocate general said that the government had issued a notification to formulate a scheme in that regard. As for showing sensitivity during rape investigation, he said that there were scores of vacancies in the police force.

Amendment sought

An amendment was being brought to reserve 10 per cent posts of police sub inspectors and constable for women, Kumar added.

The advocate general also filed an affidavit on drunken driving cases in Bangalore. There were two deaths and 66,930 cases were booked in 2010.

In 2011, five deaths and 61,923 cases were reported. In 2012, 12 deaths and 60,973 cases were booked. In 2013 till date, there have been 17 deaths and 42,092 cases of drunken driving were booked.

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