The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued an order asking for mandatory judicial magistrate inquiry into every custodial death in the nation, Union Minister of State Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy announced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. As per MoS Reddy, the NHRC, in its order dated September last year had asked for a probe into all custodial deaths in India, whether in Police or other custody authorized by a court.
"National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued an order dated September 4, 2020, for a mandatory judicial magistrate inquiry into every case of death in Police custody or other custody, authorized by the court, in view of Section 176(1A) of Code of Criminal Procedure," G Kishan Reddy said in reply.
MoS Reddy's reply came in response to a query by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Vaiko who had questioned whether the Centre would issue instructions to states and UTs to probe custodial deaths in the country, given the NHRC's order.
"As per Constitution's Seventh Schedule, 'Police' and 'Public Order' are State subjects. It's for States governments and UTs to see provisions of the law are followed in letter and spirit," clarified Reddy.
According to reports, the NHRC had overturned its 2010 order on September 4, 2020, and had called for an inquiry into all custodial deaths, and not just the ones that seemed 'suspicious' or reeked of 'foul play'.
With the latest order, the State and Central governments would now have to ensure diligent inquiry into all cases of custodial deaths, even those which were officially registered as 'natural deaths', suicides or deaths owing to medical reasons. The Judicial magistrates or metropolitan magistrates have now been mandated under the NHRC's revised order to conduct the inquiries.