After Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Varun Gandhi sought information on custodial deaths in India, the Union Home Ministry responded in Parliament on Thursday. It said that at least 151 inmates have died in police custody this year.
Recently, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) had said that inmates are dying in custody due to suicides, illnesses, injuries that they have sustained before or during police custody, or attempts to escape from prison.
However, the Union Home Ministry tabled data from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and said that as many as 13 Indian states did not register any custodial deaths this year.
Among others, Maharashtra reported the highest number of custodial deaths, with 26 inmates dying in a year.
In India, NCRB and NHRC are responsible for maintaining a record on custodial deaths.
The NCRB had earlier said that 76 inmates had died in police custody in 2020 against the 85 deaths in 2019. However, the data did not match that of NHRC, who said that 117 deaths had occurred in 2020 besides 83 deaths in 2019.
The ministry further said that the Centre could not directly intervene in the matters of custodial deaths because states are responsible for maintaining police and public order.
During the Parliament session, the ministry further added that the state governments must ensure non-occurrence of police atrocities, especially in custody, and should protect the human rights of the citizens.
While replying to another query, the ministry mentioned that the number of custodial violence cases has not increased in the country this year. They said that only 19 cases of prison violence had been registered with the NHRC in the past three years.