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Custodial death – Infographics

Custodial death - Infographics

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

In news:

  • The recent death of a father-son duo from Tamil Nadu, allegedly due to custodial violence, has sparked anger across India.
  • While calls for a fair probe are growing, data show that between 2001 and 2018, only 26 policemenwere convicted of custodial violence despite 1,727 such deaths being recorded in India.
  • As most such deaths were attributed to reasons other than custodial torture, only a few led to convictions.
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Crime and Justice:

  • Between 2001 and 2018, 1,727 personsdied in police custody.
  • This includes both persons on police/ judicial remand and those just arrested and not produced before court.
  • Only 26 policemenwere convicted in this period for such deaths.
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Other reasons:

  • Only 4.3% of the 70 deaths in 2018 were attributed to “injuries during custody due to physical assault by police”.
  • The reasons recorded for the other deaths included suicide and death in hospitals during treatment.
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  • The graph plots the number of custodial deaths against the number of policemen convicted between 2001 and 2018.
  • Except in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, no policeman was convicted for such deaths across the country.
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Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra recorded zero convictions despite recording more than 100 custodial deaths in the period.

Getting away with human rights violations:

  • Apart from custodial deaths, more than 2,000 human rights violation cases were recorded against the police between 2000 and 2018.
  • Only 344 policemen were convicted in those cases.
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Police torturing:

  • Torture methods used in 2019 included hammering iron nails in the body (Gufran Alam and Taslim Ansari of Bihar), applying roller on legs and burning (Rizwan Asad Pandit of Jammu and Kashmir), ‘falanga’ wherein the soles of the feet are beaten (Rajkumar of Kerala), stretching legs apart in opposite side (Rajkumar of Kerala), and hitting in private parts (Brijpal Maurya and Lina Narjinari of Haryana.
  • A total of 1,731 people died in custodyin India during 2019. This works out to almost five such deaths daily, according to a report by a rights group released on Friday.
  • India: Annual Report on Torture 2019’said 1,606 of the deaths happened in judicial custody and 125 in police custody.
  • The NCAT’s(National Campaign Against Torture )analysis also revealed 75 (60%) of these 125 belonged to the poor and marginalised communities.
  • They included 13 from Dalit and tribal communitiesand 15 were Muslims, while 35 were picked up for petty crimes.
  • Three of them were farmers, two security guards, two drivers, a labourer, a rag-picker and a refugee.
  • Women continued to be tortured or targeted for sexual violence in custody and the victims often belonged to the weaker sections.
  • During 2019, the death of at least four women in police custody was reported, the NCAT said.

Why such things happen:

  • The police play a major role in the administration of criminal justice.
  • One of the reasons for custodial death is that the police feel that they have a power to manipulate evidence as the investigation is their prerogative and with such manipulated evidence, they can bury the truth.
  • They are confident that they will not be held accountable even if the victim dies in custody and even if the truth is revealed.

What is needed:

  • As soon as a suspect is arrested, he should be checked for any medical illness.
  • If found, proper medical treatmentshould be provided immediately.
  • If an inmate complains of illness during his stay inside the lock-up, he should be immediately moved to hospital.
  • first-aid kitshould be always be kept inside the police station to deal with emergency situations.
  • Similarly, a fire extinguishershould also be put up in the lock-up.
  • If inmates were being provided home food as per court orders, then the food should be checked, and policemen should ensure that addicts were not able to smuggle drugs inside.
  • Finally, to ensure that custodial deaths were avoided CCTV, camerasmust be installed inside the lock-ups, which would be continuously monitored by the senior police inspector or duty officer.
  • Policemenwith a lot of patience and who were good in investigations should be deployed in the detection branch, recommended the report.
  • Policemen should thoroughly check inmatesto ensure that they were not carrying any sharp things while in the lock-up.
  • Any loose wires and nails or hooks inside the lock-ups should also be cleared, so that inmates don’t harm themselves.
  • The Supreme Court delivered a historic order in 2006 on police reforms.
  • It stated, among other things, that every State should have a Police Complaints Authoritywhere any citizen can lodge a complaint against policemen for any act of misdemeanour.
  • However, only a few States such as Kerala, Jharkhand, Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtrahave implemented the order. Others have not taken the matter seriously.
  • Until exemplary punishmentis meted out to policemen who are responsible for custodial deaths after proper judicial inquiry, not much can be expected to ameliorate the situation.
  • Proper interrogation techniquescoupled with use of scientific methods to extract the truth from suspects can go a long way in reducing custodial deaths.
  • Finally,Implementation of provisions of the United Nations Convention against Torture is needed.

Source:” The Hindu“.


Custodial death a worst form of human rights violation is continuing in India. Analyse the reasons for it. Suggest steps needed to eliminate such violations.