Skip to main content

Custodial deaths: NHRC "unwilling" to recommend prosecution of police officers despite prima facie evidence

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile report by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Bound by Brotherhood: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody”, has accused the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for having “failed to ensure accountability in custodial deaths” in India.
Based on field research and interviews conducted from April 2015 to April 2016, interviewing 45 witnesses and family members of victims of custodial death, and speaking to 25 lawyers, civil society activists and journalists, the report states,” A major weakness of NHRC has been its unwillingness to recommend prosecution of police officers, even when there is prima facie evidence that officers have committed a criminal offense.”
Pointing out that the NHRC “typically recommends only interim relief or compensation for victims”, the report, based on interviews conducted in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, and in New Delhi and Mumbai, says, “Delays in investigations, transfer of cases to ill-equipped state human rights commissions, and lack of updates to complainants are other concerns.”
This is happening, according to HRW, despite the fact that “police are required to report every such death to the NHRC within 24 hours, and the commission is tasked with inquiring into all complaints that deal with violations of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.”
Quoting an NHRC official, HRW says, “The investigation department rarely conducted ‘spot inquiries’, or their own independent investigations, relying instead on reviews of documents sent by the police or administrative authorities.”
HRW cites NHRC’s April 2010 notification to state governments, which says that in cases of custodial deaths where no foul play was alleged, it was not mandatory for the inquiry to be conducted by a judicial magistrate, because victims’ families are often unable to challenge police accounts of deaths in custody.
HRW regrets, NGOs have to “constant follow-up and pressure to induce NHRC to take concrete steps in specific cases”, adding, “Lack of adequate staffing means there are significant delays in addressing complaints”, which “often wait months or even years before they receive any updates on their cases.”
Quoting the case of Maharashtra’s Agnelo Valdaris, who died in April 2014, HRW says, while NHRC “successfully pressured Maharashtra state authorities to send documents related to his death”, yet, “over two years after his death and a year after the commission received the documents, it had yet to pass a final order in the case.”
Similarly, in the 2014 case of Syed Mohammed of Tamil Nadu, says HRW, “NHRC directed the director general of investigations to collect facts and reports within eight weeks, but over two years later, no updates were available.”
Then, HRW reports, in the January 2015 case of Obaidur Rahman of West Bengal, “after receiving a complaint from the rights group MASUM, NHRC asked its investigation department to look into the matter but nearly two years later, there was no further update.”
In yet another case, NHRC recommended that the government of Andhra Pradesh state pay Rs 500,000 a victim, B Janardhan’s next of kin, “but did not recommend the perpetrators be prosecuted”.
“Similarly”, it added, NHRC recommended Rs 300,000 as compensation to the widow of another victim, Safikul Haque, asking the chief secretary of West Bengal to take “corrective steps in light of the judicial inquiry findings, but then closed the case in January 2015 without making any specific recommendations regarding prosecution of accused police officials”.
---
Click HERE to download report

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.