Custodial deaths increase by 41.66% under UPA Govt: ACHR

By TCN News,

New Delhi: The Congress Party that came to power in 2004 with the slogan ‘Congress ka hath aam aadmi ke sath’ has failed to protect aam aadmi from khaki torture. A report titled ‘Torture in India 2010’ released by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) here yesterday has revealed an increase of 41.66% in custodial deaths under UPA government at the Centre.

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The report says that the number of custodial deaths has increased by 41.66% during 2004-2005 and 2007-2008. This includes 70.72% increase of deaths in prison custody and 12.60% in police custody.

“It is the common people who are the majority victims of torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment. However, the UPA government has failed to address the issue of torture and other human rights violations” said Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR, while releasing the report at a press conference.

While welcoming some initiatives of the UPA government including Right to Information, Right to Work and Right to Education Chakma expressed concerns that the UPA government has failed to address the need for an anti-torture legislation. “Even when the Cabinet approved the decision to introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 before the parliament and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture, the Bill is being treated as state secret,” he said.

“If government of India can hold public discussion on the Food Security Bill, why is it treating the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 as a secret document? It shows that the government has more to hide as its earlier draft, Prevention of Torture bill, 2008, contained only three operative paragraphs relating to (1) definition of torture, (2) punishment for torture, and (3) limitations for cognizance of offences. The Prevention of Torture bill, 2008 was highly flawed.” Mr Chakma added.

The report gives state-wise data about custodial deaths.

Maharashtra which is ruled by Congress-NCP alliance has the highest number of custodial deaths (246 cases) during 1999-2009. This is followed by Uttar Pradesh (165 cases), Gujarat (139 cases), West Bengal (112 cases), Andhra Pradesh (99 cases), Tamil Nadu (93 cases), Assam (91 cases), Punjab (71 cases), Karnataka (69 cases), Madhya Pradesh (66 cases), Haryana (45 cases), Bihar (43 cases), Delhi (42 cases), Kerala (41 cases), Rajasthan (38 cases), Jharkhand (31 cases), Orissa (27 cases), Chhattisgarh (23 cases), Meghalaya (17 cases), Uttarakhand (16 cases), Arunachal Pradesh (15 cases), Tripura (9 cases), Goa (5 cases), Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh (4 cases each), Pondicherry (3 cases) and Mizoram, sikkim, Dadra & nagar Haveli, and Andaman & Nicober islands (1 each).

“The Central government has refused to implement the law Commission of India’s recommendations in its 152nd Report on ‘Custodial Crimes’ to amend the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (insertion of section 114b) to provide that in cases of custodial death, the burden of proof lies with the police” he said.

“Both the Central government and the state governments consistently refuse to provide sanction for prosecution as required under section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In December 2009, the Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government to explain why it had rejected the state Criminal investigation Department (CID)’s plea to prosecute 10 officers of Mumbai Police in the Khwaja Yunus murder case. The state government had sanctioned the prosecution of four minor officers but let off 10 senior officials despite the CID establishing their roles in the custodial death of Yunus in January 2003” he added.

The ACHR has demanded the government to hold public discussion on the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010, implement the recommendations of the Law Commission of India to make consequential amendments to the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and to repeal section 197 of the CrPC to uphold the supremacy of the judiciary.