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In the last 5 five years, Gujarat reported 80 custodial deaths, highest in India

This data was revealed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in the Rajya Sabha
Last Updated : 14 February 2023, 17:18 IST

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Gujarat witnessed the most number of custodial deaths in the last five years with 80 such cases, followed by Maharashtra with 76 deaths and Uttar Pradesh with 41 deaths. Tamil Nadu is fourth on the list with 40 deaths and Bihar is fifth with 38 cases, according to data by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in the Rajya Sabha.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityananda Rai shared relevant details about custodial deaths from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2022. He said that as many as 146 cases of death in police custody were reported in the years 2017-2018, 136 in 2018-2019, 112 in 2019-2021, 100 in 2020-2021 and 175 in 2021-2022.

"Fourteen deaths in police custody were reported in Gujarat in 2017-18, 13 deaths reported in 2018-19, 12 deaths reported in 2019-20, 17 deaths in 2020-21 and 24 deaths in 2021-22,” he was quoted by The New Indian Express. When it comes to Union Territories, Delhi tops the list at 29, followed by Jammu and Kashmir at 4.

Monetary relief

Referring to information provided by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the minister said that the body has given its recommendation for monetary relief in 201 cases amounting to Rs 5.8 crore and disciplinary action in one case. The minister also elaborated on custodial deaths in several states across several years.

“In Maharashtra, 19 deaths in police custody were reported in 2017-18, 11 in 2018-19, three deaths in 2019-2020, 13 in 2020-21 and 30 deaths in 2021-22. In Uttar Pradesh, 10 deaths were reported in 2017-18, 12 deaths in 2018-19, three deaths in 2019-2020, eight deaths in 2020-21 and eight deaths in 2021-22,” Rai added.

“In Tamil Nadu, 11 deaths were reported in 2017-18, 11 in 2018-19, 12 deaths in 2019-2020, two deaths in 2020-21 and four deaths in 2021-22. In Bihar, seven deaths in police custody were reported in 2017-18, five each in 2018-19 and 2019-2020, three deaths in 2020-21 and 18 deaths in 2021-22,” Rai was quoted further.

The minister also emphasised that police and public order are the responsibility of the states as mentioned in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

“Police and public order are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. It is primarily the responsibility of the state government concerned to ensure the 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 the establishment of the NHRC and State Human Rights Commissions to look into alleged human rights violations by public servants,” he noted.

The minister also informed the house that workshops and seminars are organised by the NHRC periodically to ensure public servants are trained well to handle such issues.

“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. Workshops/ seminars are also organised by the NHRC from time to time to sensitise public servants for a better understanding of human rights and, in particular, the protection of rights of persons in custody,” he added.

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Published 14 February 2023, 13:42 IST

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