Five die in custody every day in India: report

Five die in custody every day in India: report

The 'Torture Update India' report says 1,674 people died in custody between April 1, 2017, and February 28, 2018

At least five people die in custody on a single day in India, according to a study by a human rights organisation.

The 'Torture Update India' report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) said 1,674 custodial deaths — 1,530 deaths in judicial custody and 144 deaths in police custody — took place between April 1, 2017, and February 28, 2018.

"This implies 1,674 deaths in 334 days (11 months), ie, over five custodial deaths per day on an average during 2017-2018. This constitutes a significant increase in the number of custodial deaths, as a total of 14,231 custodial deaths, ie, about four custodial deaths per day on an average, were reported during 2001-2010," said the report released on Tuesday, coinciding with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2018.

"Nothing exemplifies torture in India than the deaths in police and prison custody and despicable detention conditions which are totally incompatible with human dignity and amount to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," it said.

UP tops list

The highest number of custodial deaths took place in Uttar Pradesh (374) followed by Maharashtra (137), West Bengal (132), Punjab (128), Madhya Pradesh (113) and Bihar (109). In Karnataka, there were 15 such incidents during the period.

The ACHR said India must commit to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) and place the Prevention of Torture Bill of 2017 as drafted by the Law Commission of India before Parliament during the upcoming monsoon session to address the menace of torture in India.

"The ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture is also indispensable if India is serious about extraditing fugitives, as the UNCAT prohibits refoulement or extradition where there are substantial grounds for believing that the requested person sought to be extradited would be in danger of being subjected to torture," it said.

The ACHR said India has already lost the case of extradition of Kim Davy, an accused in the Purulia arms dropping case of 1995 in Denmark, and the extradition of Sanjiv Chawla, an alleged cricket bookie in the United Kingdom on the grounds that prison conditions in India amount to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and that India has not ratified the UNCAT.

"Unless India removes the legal obstacles by ratifying the UNCAT, it may lose other extradition requests. Putting pressure on European governments for extradition to India will not work as they, like the Government of India, cannot interfere in sub judice matters and financial fugitives will mount legal challenge at every step," it warned.