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Five custodial deaths per day in India, says report

Jun 27, 2018

Asian Centre for Human Rights has cited India's home ministry's reply in the Rajya Sabha that states that a total of 1,674 custodial deaths including 1,530 deaths in judicial custody and 144 deaths in police custody took place from 1 April 2017 to 28 February 2018.

Delhi:A total of 1,674 custodial deaths including 1,530 deaths in judicial custody and 144 deaths in police custody took place from 1 April 2017 to 28 February 2018, accroding to the Ministry of Home Affairs. These figures were provided to the Rajya Sabha on 14 March 2018.

This works out to over five custodial deaths per day on an average during 2017-2018, says the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) which on Tuesday released its report 'Torture Update India', on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
“This constitutes a significant increase in the number of custodial deaths as a total of 14,231 custodial deaths i.e. about four custodial death per day on an average were reported during 2001 to 2010,” according to the ACHR report.
The highest number of custodial deaths took place in Uttar Pradesh (374). This was followed by Maharashtra (137), West Bengal (132), Punjab (128), Madhya Pradesh (113), Bihar (109), Rajasthan (89), Tamil Nadu (76), Gujarat (61), Odisha (56), Jharkhand (55), Chhattisgarh (54), Haryana (48), Delhi (47), Assam (37), Andhra Pradesh (35), Uttarakhand and Telangana (17 each), Karnataka (15), Himachal Pradesh (8), Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura (6 each), Jammu & Kashmir and Meghalaya (4 each), Mizoram (3), Manipur, Chandigarh, Sikkim and Nagaland (2 each).
Terming this as a "menace of torture in India," the ACHR report called for India to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) and place the Prevention of Torture Bill of 2017 as drafted by the Law Commission before Parliament during its upcoming monsoon session.
Linking the incidence of torture to the politically-loaded issue of extradiation of fugitives sought by the government, ACHR argues that such ratification will also strengthen India's case in the courts of different lands where fugitives have sought safety.
“The ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture is also indispensable if India is serious to extradite fugitives to India as the UNCAT prohibits refoulment 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," the report says.
Significantly, India has lost the case of extradition of Kim Davy, an accused of Purulia arms dropping case of 1995 in Denmark and extradition of Sanjiv Chawla, an alleged cricket bookie in the United Kingdom on the ground that prison conditions in India amount to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and that India has not ratified the UNCAT.
In this light, ACHR point out that India other extradition requests too can be turned down by foreign governments. The reports says, "Putting pressure on the European governments for extradition to India will not work as the European Governments like the Government of India cannot interfere in subjudice matters and the financial fugitives will mount legal challenge at every step.”
In addition to Nirav Modi, India had 16 extradition requests pending with the government of United Kingdom alone. These are Rajesh and Seema Kapoor, Patrick Charles Bowring, Tiger Hanif (alias Mohd Hanif Umarji Patel), Palaniappan Rajaratinam, Pavilose Fernandez (alias @Paul Samuel), Lokendra Sharma, Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, Kartik Venugopal, Shaikh Sadiq, S Balakrishnan, Vijay Mallya, Ritika Avasty, Rishikesh Surendra Kardile, Kavaljit Sinh Mahendra Singh Raijada and Arti Dhir, Chandan Sharma and Raj Kumar Patel.
India has done little to ratify UNCAT though it signed the convention in 1997. On the other hand, human rights activists point out that the Lok Sabha passed the Prevention of Torture Bill (PTB), 2010 which was highly flawed. The Rajya Sabha has refered PTB to a Select Committee.
On the other hand, the Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances of the ongoing 16th Lok Sabha in its 30th Report in March 2016 recommended that the ratification “be taken to its logical end by amending the relevant status”.
India's neighbours, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have ratified the UNCAT and enacted national laws against torture.

 

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