New Delhi: A total of 151 custodial deaths have been reported in the country this year with Maharashtra reporting the highest at 26, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
Maharashtra reported maximum of 26 deaths in police custody followed by Gujarat (21) and Bihar (18). About 11 deaths each in police custody were reported from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Responding to BJP MP Varun Gandhi`s question, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said that according to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), 151 cases of death in police custody were reported till November 15.
As per the seventh Schedule of the Constitution, police and public order are state subjects. "It is primarily the responsibility of the state government concerned to appropriately prevent and ensure non-occurrence of police atrocities and protect the human rights of the citizens," Rai said.
Underlining that the custodial deaths or violations involving the state police and jail authorities also fall within the jurisdiction of the state governments, he said: "In view of this, the Central Government does not intervene directly in the matters of custodial deaths. The Centre has issued advisories and the NHRC has issued guidelines and recommendations to be followed by the states/UTs in all cases of custodial deaths," the minister said.
In addition, workshops and seminars are also organised by NHRC from time to time to sensitise officers in state governments for better protection of human rights and particularly protection of rights of persons in custody, he added.