Minister of state for home Nityanand Rai.
NEW DELHI: As many as 348 people died and 1,189 were tortured in police custody between 2018-19 and 2020-21, the home ministry informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
In written reply to a question, minister of state for home Nityanand Rai said that as per information received from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), 100 deaths in police custody and 236 cases of torture in police custody were reported in 2020-21, down from 112 deaths and 411 instances of torture in police custody in 2019-20 and 136 deaths and 542 torture instances in 2018-19.
Incidentally, the question – asked by Sivaganga MP Karti Chidambaram - related to police violence against civilians in enforcing Covid lockdowns. To this, Rai replied that ‘police’ and ‘public order’ were state subjects as per seventh schedule of the Constitution of India, with the responsibility of maintaining law and order, including investigation, registration and prosecution of crimes, conviction of accused, protection of life and property etc resting primarily with the respective state governments.
Regarding the sub-query seeking details of action taken against the offending police officers behind custodial deaths and torture, the home ministry reiterated that ‘police’ and ‘public order’ being state subjects, “the state governments are empowered to deal with such offences which come to their notice as per the extant provisions of the law”. He added that sensitisation exercise for the police on various aspects of the law is an ongoing process.