State wants custody death law redefined

Maharashtra has highest number of such cases,Patil says law ambiguity to blame

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: April 8, 2014 1:09 pm

Maharashtra government wants to relook at the definition of custodial death to combat the stigma of registering the highest number of deaths in police custody. The home department believes the state has the maximum number of custodial deaths due to ambiguity in the law.

Home Minister R R Patil on Tuesday said,“We are going to ask the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to relook at the parameters and allow modifications. There should be a uniform definition of custody death. It cannot vary from state to state. And if NCRB does not agree for a uniform law and leaves it to the state to evolve its laws,Maharashtra will have to make some corrections.”

According to Patil,“Highest custodial deaths projected in the NCRB reports point to discrepancies in the laws in every state. In Maharashtra,the number appears higher as there is no segregation. Even the deaths in prison due to natural causes are counted as custodial deaths,thus taking the tally up.”

However,in several other states,the cause of death is clearly defined and those due to illness or accidents are not taken into account,he added. As per the NCRB reports,there were 24 custodial deaths in Maharashtra in 2012. Of these,four were suicides,13 due to illness,six died in hospitals and one in an accident. The 2011 NCRB report indicated that Maharashtra has the maximum custodial deaths in the country,with 297 custody deaths of the total 1,242.

The home minister indicated that he has apprised the Union Home Ministry of the issue. Another issue the state plans to take up with the Centre relates to seeking a ban on the right wing Sanatan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat. Patil said,“In case of Abhinav Bharat,the Centre indicated that most of the organisation is already deactivated.” But in case of Sanatan Sanstha,some queries were sent to the state home ministry in January 2013,which it has answered. These relate to establishing the nexus of incidents of blasts in Nanded and Malegaon with people who have been detained. The Centre wanted more concrete evidence to establish the role of the Sanstha. Now,the state is awaiting the final decision of the Centre.

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