Rise in custodial deaths in Gujarat raises significant concerns, says state law paneltext_fields
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat state law commission has expressed deep concern over the increasing incidents of custodial deaths in the state, emphasising that it is a matter of great public concern.
Earlier this year, on February 8, the Central government informed Parliament that Gujarat had reported the highest number of deaths in police custody (80) among all states and Union Territories between 2017 and 2022. This included 24 deaths in 2021-22, 17 in 2020-21, 12 in 2019-20, 13 in 2018-19, and 14 in 2017-18.
The commission's report, titled "Suggestions to have proper control on the law enforcing agency for the prevention of unwanted instances of custodial death," was submitted to the state government in July.
The commission's report highlighted that in 2021, not a single case filed against police personnel in connection with custodial deaths resulted in a conviction. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau indicated that in 2021, magisterial inquiries were ordered in nine cases of custodial deaths, while judicial inquiries were ordered in 11 instances, reported The Indian Express.
Furthermore, the report noted that four cases were registered, with charge sheets filed in two of them. During this period, 12 policemen were arrested, and nine were chargesheeted.
Former Supreme Court judge MB Shah, who chaired the panel, highlighted the need to sensitise the police to operate within the framework of the Constitution. The commission also stressed the importance of installing video and audio-enabled closed-circuit television cameras in police stations and jails.
In addition to these measures, the panel recommended taking action against police personnel found abusing their official positions, conducting regular health checkups for prisoners, and establishing exclusive interrogation teams responsible for gathering evidence from detainees.