Custody death: SC seeks Govt's reply on mandatory probe

SC seeks Centre's reply on plea for mandatory judicial probe in custodial death cases

Credit: PTI Photo

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a plea by a human rights activist, Suhas Chakma, alleging non-implementation of a provision for mandatory judicial probe into death, disappearance and rape in police or judicial custody.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat decided to consider the matter as the petitioner pointed out Section 176 (1A) of the Criminal Procedure Code was introduced in the statute in 2005 making judicial inquiry mandatory in such cases but it was not being implemented in letter and spirit.

The court sought a reply from the Union government on the PIL within four weeks.

The petitioner contended the need to enforce the provision of the CrPC for India’s own conscience as a nation governed by the rule of law cannot be stressed enough.

“In a civilized society, it is the fear of law that prevents crimes but in India, there is effectively no fear of the law among the delinquent police or prison officials who commit custodial crimes with impunity,” his plea alleged.

Among others, Chakma cited 'Crime in India' annual reports of the NCRB for 2005-2017 to point out that out of the total 827 cases of 'death or disappearance of persons in police custody without court remand', judicial inquiry was ordered only in 166 cases i.e. 20% of the total cases.

He contended the non-implementation of the provision has ended up shielding the law breakers i.e. delinquent police or prison officials.

Concerned over about death or disappearance of a person or rape of a woman in the custody of the police, the Code of Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill, 1994 was introduced on May 9, 1994 in Parliament. However, it was passed 10 years later in 2005 and Section 176(1A) CrPC came into force on June 23, 2006