New Delhi: A rights group Tuesday said that the number of custodial deaths in the country has increased by 41.66 percent since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government came to power in 2004.
New Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) released its report "Torture in India 2010" Tuesday and said taking 2000-01 figures as the base year, custodial deaths have increased by 41.66 percent under the UPA government between 2004-05 and 2007-08.
This includes 70.72 percent increase in deaths in prison custody and 12.60 percent increase in deaths in police custody, the report said.
"It is the common people who are mainly tortured and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. However, the UPA government has failed to address the violations of the rights of the `aam aadmi` (common people)," said Suhas Chakma, director of ACHR.
In the report, the ACHR said the UPA government has failed to prevent torture.
"Though the cabinet approved the decision to introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010, in parliament and ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the bill is being treated as `a state secret`," an ACHR statement said.
Chakma asked that if the Indian government can hold public discussions on the food security bill why not on the torture bill.
"It shows that the government has more to hide as its earlier draft, Prevention of Torture bill, 2008, contained only three operative paragraphs relating to definition of torture, punishment for torture, and limitations for cognizance of offences," Chakma said.
"The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008, was highly flawed and the government has failed to indicate that it has addressed these flaws to comply with the obligations under the United Nations convention," Chakma said.
The ACHR lamented that the home ministry has told parliament time and again that state governments are responsible for taking action against custodial deaths.
The home minstry repeatedly states "police and `public order` are state subjects under the constitution. It is for the state governments to take action in every crime", ACHR said.
The report said the central government even failed to take action against custodial deaths in the union territories.
Between 1999-2009, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party ruled Maharashtra had the highest number of custodial deaths (246) followed by Uttar Pradesh (165), Gujarat (139), West Bengal (112), Andhra Pradesh (99), Tamil Nadu (93), Assam (91), Punjab (71), Karnataka (69), Madhya Pradesh (66), Haryana (45), Bihar (43), Delhi (42), Kerala (41), Rajasthan (38 cases), Jharkhand (31 cases), Orissa (27 cases) and Chhattisgarh (23), the statement said.