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Rise in cases of custodial deaths in the country With the number of custodial deaths showing an increasing trend, the Union Home Ministry has issued guidelines to all State Governments and Union Territories to inform the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) about such incidents within 24 hours of occurrence. In 2007-08, the number of police custodial deaths was 188, up from 118 in 2006-07, Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal said. There were 136 such deaths in 2004-05 and the figure rose to 139 in the next year. "The NHRC has recommended departmental or disciplinary action as well as initiation of prosecution against delinquent officials in cases where, prima facie, cases of custodial violence is established," Jaiswal said. During the last three years and the current year, the NHRC has recommended disciplinary action in eight cases and prosecution in three cases, he said, adding the NHRC has also awarded a total interim relief or compensation of Rs.69.45 lakh in cases of deaths in police custody. Concerned over the increase in the number of custodial deaths, the Home Ministry has circulated important guidelines, as directed by the Supreme Court, to be followed by all authorities concerned while making arrests, he said. The States and Union Territories have been directed to monitor closely the implementation of the guidelines. Amendments have been proposed in the CrPC through the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill to incorporate the guidelines and certain other provisions regarding arrests, Home Ministry sources said. The Section 176 of the CrPC has already been amended to provide that in case of death or disappearance of a person or rape of a woman while in custody of police, there shall be a mandatory judicial inquiry. In case of death, examination of the body has to be conducted within 24 hours of death. Besides, components relating to human rights have been incorporated in the training curriculum for police and Central Para-Military Forces. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) as well as the state police authorities on human rights issues regularly conduct seminars and workshops. Police at all levels are being sensitised to issues related to human rights, they said. States and UTs have been directed to constitute the State Human Rights Commissions. "But there are many states that have not yet done so despite repeated reminders from the Centre," Jaiswal said. He said those states, mostly small ones; take the alibi of shortage of funds. "Every state should realise that this is an important issue and should not be ignored," he added.
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